Oil Train Derailment in West Virginia Causes Explosion, Sends Tanker Cars into River


Note: The CSX train which derailed in a residential area near Montgomery, WV originated in North Dakota and was headed to a storage depot in Yorktown, Virginia. It was carrying highly volatile crude oil from the Bakken shale. Downstream water treatment plants have been closed because of the oil being spilled into the river.

In January 2014, an industrial chemical leak into the Elk River just two miles upstream of the Kanawha River tainted the water supply of 300,000.

In April 2014, a CSX train transporting Bakken shale crude oil to the same destination in Yorktown derailed in Lynchburg, Virginia, exploding and spilling oil into the James River.


12:30 p.m. UPDATE:

Officials with CSX announced on Tuesday morning that shelters for those people affected by the train derailment in the Powellton Hollow area have been consolidated.  There are now two shelters set up in the area.  Those include Valley High School, which is being run by the American Red Cross, and the Glen Ferris Inn on U.S. Route 60.  

The shelter at the Glen Ferris Inn is also the site of CSX’s community outreach center.  Melanie Cost, with CSX, said that the company is working to get people back into their homes as soon as possible.  The outreach center will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until further notice.

Previous locations of shelters included Armstrong Creek Fire Department, WVU Tech’s Gymnasium, Montgomery Fire Department and Valley Elementary School.  Those shelters are now closed.

11:00 a.m. UPDATE:

As recovery efforts for a train wreck in the Powellton Hollow area proceed, West Virginia’s leaders in Congress announced they will be visiting the site on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015.  U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he will be meeting with emergency first responders , local officials, area residents and CSX representatives.  According to a release from the Senator’s office, he will be helping to coordinate and open line of communication between federal, state and local administrators.  Congressman Evan Jenkins (R-3rd District) has also said he will be in the area.  Congressman Alex Mooney (R-2nd District) offered his comments on the situation.

“It is my sincere hope that as the derailment situation progresses we continue to avoid an serious or life-threatening injuries.  I believe the top priorities now are to protect downstream citizens’ clean drinking water and contain further spillage,” said Congressman Mooney.  “I stand ready to work with first responders and federal regulators on the scene to determine the cause of the incident and to return evacuated residents to their homes as swiftly as safety allow.  My Charleston office is ready to help with any citizens’ concerns or questions at 304-925-5964.”

West Virginia Delegate Kayla Kessinger (R-Fayette) announced that she is meeting with the Fayette County delegation to the WV Legislature on Tuesday.  The goal is to discuss how they can work together to help those impacted by the accident.

“I am hopeful we will use every tool at our disposal to help in the response.  We must assure that safety is the top priority for area residents and the emergency workers responding to this accident,” said Del. Kessinger.

8:00 a.m. UPDATE:

Officials at the Emergency Operations Center estimate the fire will burn for another 24 hours after a CSX train derailed in Mount Carbon in Fayette County, WV.  Another explosion rocked the area at about 11:30 p.m. last night which hampered the cleanup effort. No injuries were reported in that explosion.

The surrounding area has been evacuated for a 1.5 mile radius.

2/17/2015 7:30 a.m. UPDATE:

The West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety has announced that efforts to support first responders and emergency management personnel who are working to clean up a oil train derailment continued throughout the night and into the morning on Tuesday, Feb. 17.  Officials said initial reports that one or more tanker cars had ended up in the water appear to have been false. The West Virginia National Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management are helping to coordinate the overall response and field local requests for resources and assistance.

(CLICK HERE to read more about bakken crude shipment safety concerns)

The response includes providing potable water for customers of the Montgomery water treatment plant.  The National Guard 35th Civil Support Team is drawing samples to test for spilled crude oil. West Virginia American Water, with the help of the West Virginia Department of Transportation, is providing a pair of 8,000 gallon tankers to supply Montgomery General Hospital and a nearby long-term care facility to ensure their boilers can continue to operate.  The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is working with local water supply facilities to ensure the protection of public health.

CSX and the American Red Cross are assisting residents who were evacuated from the area as a result of the accident.  Shelters have been set up by state agencies at Valley High School in Smithers and Armstrong Creek Fire Department in Powellton.  CSX plans to open a community outreach center to address needs as a result of the train derailment.  That center till be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until further notice.  It is set up at the Glass-in Riverside Room at the Glen Ferris Inn on U.S. Route 60 in Glen Ferris.

The Montgomery water treatment plant still had water in its reserves at 10 p.m. on Monday night.  The intake valve at the plant was closed shortly after the accident happened to keep crude oil from entering the system.  The intake valve at the Cedar Grove plant, which is further downstream from the accident, is still open.  Crews at Cedar Grove are monitoring water approaching the intake for any signs of crude oil.

6 p.m. UPDATE:

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) declared a state of emergency for Fayette and Kanawha Counties at 5:40 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.  The declaration was in response to the CSX train derailment that lead to the evacuation of the Powelltown Hollow area, which includes Boomer and Adena Village.  No other counties were included in this declaration.

B9_fh0FCEAAP6g6“Declaring a State of Emergency ensures that residents of both Kanawha and Fayette counties have the access they need to resources necessary to handle all stages of the emergency,” said Gov. Tomblin. “State official are on site and will continue to work with local and federal officials, as well as CSX representatives throughout the incident.”

Firefighters with the Boomer Fire Department said that there have been at least six explosions in connection with the fire that started from a CSX train that derailed in the Powelltown Hollow area of Fayette County on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.  The derailment happened at around 1:30 p.m.  As a result, the entire town of Boomer was evacuated by 4:30 p.m.

The train consisted of two locomotives and 109 rail cars.  It was traveling from North Dakota to Yorktown, VA carrying crude oil. The scene extends along WV Route 61, near Armstrong Creek road. According to firefighters, the largest explosion happened near a house that was between the railroad tracks and the Kanawha River.  They do not believe anyone was home at the time.  State Troopers said there have been no fatalities reported.  According to a release from CSX one person was being treated for potential inhalation, but no other injuries were reported.

B-AGD8LIQAAd7__.png_largeCSX released this statement regarding the derailment:

“CSX teams are working with first responders on the derailment this afternoon of an oil train near Mount Carbon, WV.  At least one rail car appears to have ruptured and caught fire. The derailment has resulted in the precautionary evacuation of nearby communities, and precautionary suspension of operation at the Cedar Grove and Montgomery water treatment plants. CSX is working with the Red Cross and other relief organizations to address residents’ needs, taking into account winter storm conditions.  These efforts include shelters for residents who have been evacuated.  CSX teams also are working with first responders to address the fire, to determine how many rail cars derailed, and to deploy environmental protective and monitoring measures on land, air and in the nearby Kanawha River.  The company also is working with public officials and investigative agencies to address their needs.”

Crews said oil is burning everywhere.  There are some environmental concerns if the oil is under the frozen spots in the river.  Crews on the scene said that the oil in those locations will not burn and will have “all kinds of negative impacts on the water.”


3:00 p.m., UPDATE:

Water intakes in Montgomery and Cedar Grove have been closed because of the train accident along the Kanawha River.  That is according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health.

It is confirmed that the train was carrying crude oil, some of which spilled into the Kanawha River.  While the intakes are closed, customers are urged to conserve water.  The Montgomery Water System is part of West Virginia American Water Co.  The company released a statement regarding the accident.

“West Virginia American Water is aware of the train derailment just east of Montgomery on the Fayette-Kanawha County line.   The Montgomery water treatment plant, which draws water from the Kanawha River a few miles downstream of the accident, was shut down at approximately 2:30 p.m.,” said Laura Jordan, the External Affairs Manager.  “Customers in the Montgomery area are asked to conserve water and only use it for essential functions at this time.  West Virginia American Water is working with emergency responders and the Bureau for Public Health on continued response efforts.”

The West Virginia State Police expanded the evacuation order for the area at around 3:15 p.m. to include anyone with half of a mile of the fire.  Anyone who is not responding to the scene as a part of the emergency crews is asked to avoid the area.

2:30 p.m., UPDATE:

Dispatchers have announced that the towns of Adena Village and Boomer Bottom are being evacuated because of a nearby train derailment.

Officials said Route 61 is being shut down as a result of the derailment. A shelter is being set up at Valley Elementary School for people who are being evacuated.

According to Lawrence Messina, communications director for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, at least one tanker has fallen into the river, and authorities believe crude oil is in the tanker. Messina said officials were unsure if anything else was in the tanker.

Messina said the Department of Environmental Protection also was responding to the accident to assess the situation.

2:21 p.m., Original Story: Firefighters and emergency crews have responded to a train accident in Montgomery, WV busy.

The accident happened at about 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. Details on what exactly happened are still limited at this time. Officials have said that a train has derailed. The location of the accident is near Montgomery, within a four mile radius. Watch for updates hear and on the air as information becomes available.

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