The Guardian reports: A train carrying crude oil partly derailed and then caught fire on Wednesday along the James river in Lynchburg, Virginia, with three leaking tankers ending up in the water. It is latest in a series of fiery accidents involving oil transported on North America’s rail network.
Nearby buildings were temporarily evacuated but officials said there were no injuries. The city of Lynchburg said firefighters 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.
Photos and videos posted online showed large flames and thick black smoke immediately after the crash. Later photos showed the fire mostly out.
In July 2013 a runaway oil train derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, in Canada near the Maine border. Forty-seven people died and 30 buildings were incinerated. Canadian investigators said the combustibility of the 1.3m gallons of light sweet crude released in Lac-Megantic was comparable to gasoline.
In all 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.” [Continue reading…]
Is the rulemaking simply too slow or are there more nefarious forces at play? Every time there’s another rail accident, I have little doubt the XL Keystone lobbyists jump at the opportunity to underline how oil transportation through pipelines is so much “safer.”