Derailed CSX Train Caused Massive Explosion in Lynchburg, Virginia
The derailment of a CSX train in Lynchburg sent three burning tanker cars into the James River and prompted evacuations on Wednesday. It could have been so much worse.
The Roanoke Times reported on how about 50,000 gallons of crude oil were unaccounted for late Wednesday after a CSX train derailed in downtown Lynchburg and sent burning tanker cars into the river, raising pollution fears.
Dozens of first responders headed into downtown Lynchburg. Fortunately, there have been no reports of injuries.
Employees of Scarlett’s Main Street Antique store were tending to typical midweek business as usual when they saw the flames erupt from the riverbank, reported the Roanoke Times.
Annette Jordan of the store said plumes of thick smoke rose hundreds of feet into the air and then began to spread a half-block in both directions.
“The whole sky turned black,” she said.
Mark Mellette told the Roanoke Times he saw “a huge pillar of smoke and fire” and could feel the heat from his apartment on Jefferson Street.
Multiple government agencies have been investigating the crash, and no official cause of the derailment has been determined. CSX later confirmed about 15 tanker cars were involved in the derailment. Three or four caught fire, Lynchburg Police Lt. Dave Gearhart said.
The derailment in Lynchburg is the latest in a series of railroad accidents which have called the safety of the tanker cars used on U.S. railroads into question. Recently I reported on how federal regulators are drawing up new guidelines to tighten up safety on trains carrying hazardous and flammable substances.
The DOT-111 tanker car is the workhorse of the railroads but its tendency to rupture in a derailment is well documented. Last year a runaway train exploded in a remote town in Quebec in Canada, killing 47 people.