(Adds details on Plains in second paragraph, NTSB paragraphs
By Patrick Rucker
LYNCHBURG, Virginia May 1 The CSX Corp
train that derailed and erupted in flames in Lynchburg,
Virginia, was carrying crude from the Bakken shale in North
Dakota, the kind of oil involved in several other fiery
derailments, the railroad said on Thursday.
The consignment of oil, more than 800 barrels of which
spilled into the James River and caused a miles-long sheen,
belonged to Plains All American, a big energy logistics
firm that runs an oil terminal on the Virginia coast, three
industry sources told Reuters. PAA declined to comment.
It may take days or weeks to finish investigating the
incident, said National Transportation Safety Board investigator
Jim Southworth. He said the train was traveling at 24 mph, just
under the 25 mph speed limit, and some of the tank cars were
DOT-111s, the most commonly used model.
"Which ones were compromised, damaged or ruptured I don't
know," he said. He did not say whether the cars in question were
manufactured before 2011, when the rail industry voluntarily
adopted tougher standards after regulators found that older
model DOT-111s were prone to puncture in a collision.
On Wednesday afternoon, some 15 cars derailed, several of
which erupted in flames. Three tumbled down an embankment into
the James River. No one was hurt in the accident.
It was the sixth fiery derailment to occur in North America
since a runaway train in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, derailed and
exploded, killing 47 people in July. At least three of those
involved oil from the Bakken, which is much lighter and
therefore more flammable than most other varieties.
The U.S. Department of Transportation warned a few months
ago that Bakken oil could be more flammable than other types of
crude. The incident is likely to add to calls for tougher
regulations on the testing and transporting oil by rail, a
booming business that has grown quickly with the emergence of
shale oil in places like North Dakota.
The accident occurred on the day U.S. regulators submitted a
long-stalled proposal for tougher rail car design standards to
the White House for review. The measure could raise costs for
shippers and may require phasing out older cars.
A SHEEN MILES LONG
State emergency managers estimated that a total of 30,000
gallons (831 barrels) of crude oil had leaked into the river,
creating a sheen up to 9 miles long, according to Bill Hayden, a
public information officer with the Virginia Department of
Most of the slick has been contained by booms and some of
the oil has burned off, he said. Drinking water has not been
affected, Hayden said by phone from Richmond.
Florida-based CSX said the train, which had two locomotives
and 105 cars, was en route to Yorktown, Virginia.
The storage depot run by Plain All American in
Yorktown can handle up to 140,000 barrels per day of such
shipments. Plains did not reply to numerous calls for comment.
CSX said it has removed all cars that did not derail on
"It sounded like a wreck - a car wreck that went on for a
long time," said Sarah Anderson, who was getting ready for work
about four blocks from the scene when she hard the crashing
noise. Anderson said she saw thick smoke climbing over downtown
and flames that reached several stories high.
Nearly 640,000 barrels-per-day of the oil produced in North
Dakota left the state aboard trains in February, according to
latest data from state regulators.
Another CSX train carrying crude oil derailed in
Philadelphia in January, nearly toppling over a bridge, but did
not erupt. In an unrelated incident on Thursday morning, a CSX
train carrying 8,000 tons of coal derailed about 200 miles
northeast of Lynchburg, in Bowie, Maryland, according to a
report from a local CBS affiliate.
(Reporting by Selam Gebrekidan, Patrick Rucker in Lynchburg and
Kristen Hays in Houston; Editing by David Gregorio and Cynthia