A train carrying crude oil partly derailed and caught fire on Wednesday along the James river in Lynchburg, Virginia. Three leaking tankers ending up in the water. This is the latest in a series of fiery accidents involving oil transported on North America’s rail network.
Nearby buildings were temporarily evacuated but there were no injuries according to officials. The city of Lynchburg said fire-fighters on the scene made the decision to let the fire burn out. Three or four of the tankers were breached on the 15-car train that train company CSX said had been on its way from Chicago to unspecified destination.
There have been eight significant oil train accidents in the US and Canada in the past year involving trains hauling crude oil, including several that resulted in large fires, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
"This is another national wake-up call," said Jim Hall, a former NTSB chairman said of the Lynchburg crash. "We have these oil trains moving all across the United States through communities and the growth and distribution of this has all occurred, unfortunately, while the federal regulators have been asleep.
"This is just an area in which the federal rulemaking process is too slow to protect the American people."
CSX said it was "responding fully, with emergency response personnel, safety and environmental experts, community support teams and other resources".
The NTSB said it was sending investigators to the scene, as was the Federal Railroad Administration. Grady Cothen, a former Federal Railroad Administration official, said recent wet weather and the nearby river might have softened the ground and weakened the track.