Major fire, explosion after train carrying crude oil derails in Lynchburg, Virginia

New York Daily News | April 30, 2014 | Column by Nina Golgowski

City officials say no injuries have been reported from the 2 p.m. derailment. The city is evacuating the downtown area and advising Lynchburg residents to stay away.


Downtown Lynchburg, Va., is being evacuated after a train detrailed and crashed Wednesday afternoon.  Read more:

A train carrying crude oil has derailed and crashed in downtown Lynchburg, Va., leading to evacuations in the immediate downtown area seen billowing with smoke and fire.

At this time the city says no injuries have been reported from the explosive crash around 2 p.m. EST near The Depot Grille which reportedly dumped crude oil in the James River.

Lynchburg police and fire personnel are actively at the scene while advising residents to stay out of the downtown area. City officials also say that the city's drinking water has not been affected by the spill.

The city reports that 12 to 14 tanker cars were carrying crude oil when the CSX train crashed. Of those cars, three or four tanker cars breached.

"The cause of the derailment has not been determined at this time," the city said in a statement. "CSX officials are working to remove the portion of the train that is blocking workers from leaving Griffin Pipe Foundry located in the lower basin."

In dramatic video and photos uploaded by witnesses online, billowing smoke and fire is seen filling the sky and apparently even bleeding into some surrounding water.

The fire department is now allowing the fire to burn out after accessing the situation.

Eerily, Wednesday's crash comes the same day Governor Cuomo sent a letter to the White House urging immediate federal action to protect New York from similar crude oil transportation disasters.

"This is the latest in a series of accidents involving trains transporting crude oil, a startling pattern underscoring the need for action," Cuomo reacted to the Lynchburg derailment on Twitter. "The federal government must overhaul safety regulations. We cannot wait for a tragic disaster in our state to act."

His office stressed that tens of millions of gallons pass along the state's rail corridors each day, despite New York having no refineries.

“While rail transportation of crude oil has risen dramatically, federal regulations and safety precautions have lagged behind," Cuomo stated.

A recent report on the State's crude oil transportation safety found that the majority of tank cars used to transport the flammable fuel are outdated.

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PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy
PAUSE is a grassroots group of individuals who have come together to promote safe, sustainable energy and fight for environmental justice. We engage the greater public to stop the fossil fuel industry’s assault on the people of Albany and our environment.