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Oil Train Derailment in W.Va. Results in Fiery Explosion and Oil Spill

A 109-car oil train carrying crude from North Dakota derailed Monday afternoon, causing a fireball that was still burning Tuesday morning. Initial reports had at least one tanker leaking oil into a tributary of the Kanawha River, closing water plants
February 17, 2015, 2pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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"The CSX train, hauling 107 tank car loads of Bakken Shale crude oil from North Dakota to a terminal in Yorktown, Virginia, derailed in Adena Village near Mount Carbon and Deepwater about 1:30 p.m. Monday, setting at least one house ablaze and causing numerous tank cars to burn and explode," writes Rusty Marks of The Charleston Gazette. "The train also included two cars of sand, which were used as buffers at either end."

About 2,400 people were evacuated or displaced by the train derailment, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency," adds Marks. Only one breathing-related injury was reported. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency in Kanawha and Fayette Counties.

"WSAZ-TV, citing emergency dispatchers, said several of the 33,000- gallon cars were in the river, and some were leaking," writes Michael Winter of USA TODAY. The station clarifies that the tankers fell into a tributary of the Kanawha River.

"Two water-treatment plants downstream closed intakes and halted operations as a precaution, and residents were urged to conserve water," adds Winter. "One of the plants resumed normal operations Tuesday."

However, Reuters reports that the oil did not spill into the river. "None of the 25 tank cars that derailed fell into the nearby Kanawha River, CSX said," writes Edward McAllister. "On Monday, officials said at least one car had entered the river."

Water tests along the Kanawha River have so far come up negative for traces of oil, according to a spokeswoman at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. A nearby water treatment plant has been closed, she said.

McAllister adds that "according to CSX Corp, the train was hauling newer model tank cars, not the older versions widely criticized as prone to puncture. All the oil tank cars on the 109-car train were CPC 1232 models, CSX said late Monday."

The CPC 1232 is the newer, supposedly tougher version of the DOT-111 car manufactured before 2011, which was faulted by regulators and operators for a number of years.

A similar derailment of a CSX oi-train resulting in an explosion and spill into the James River occurred last year on April 30 in Lynchburg, Va.

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Published on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 in The Charleston Gazette
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