Home Energy and Environment Video: Oil Train Explodes in Lynchburg; Reports of Oil Spilled in James...

Video: Oil Train Explodes in Lynchburg; Reports of Oil Spilled in James River


Why on earth are dangerous oil trains allowed anywhere near populated areas? It’s utterly insane. The latest example of what can happen is in Lynchburg, Virginia, where “[a] freight train owned by CSX Corporation has erupted in downtown Lynchburg, Virginia,” sending “‘flames stories high’ into the air, creating a large black cloud.” In addition, the RTD reports, the derailment has spilled “oil into the James River upstream from Richmond’s primary water supply.” Ugh.

P.S. Thankfully, this accident wasn’t as destructive as the Lac-Mégantic derailment on July 6, 2013, which destroyed roughly half the downtown area and killed nearly 50 people. Meanwhile, this is the second fossil fuel mess that’s threatened Virginians’ drinking water in the past few months, the other one being the coal ash spill in the Dan River.

UPDATE: Gov. McAuliffe has issued a statement.

“This afternoon my Public Safety team informed me of the train derailment and fire in Lynchburg. Immediately after those reports were received the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Virginia State Police, and the Virginia Department of Fire Programs were instructed to coordinate with local responders and mobilize the resources necessary to respond to this incident.

“Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Adam Thiel has been dispatched to the scene and will provide my team and me with constant updates as this situation unfolds. I have also spoken with Lynchburg Mayor Michael Gillette and offered him any and all resources he needs to respond to this incident and keep Virginians safe.”

I can’t even tell you how much this pisses me off. Earth to humanity: GET OFF OF FOSSIL FUELS NOW!

  • Tom

    The diary just above the video says this happened in Lynchburg, which is “upstream from Richmond” and the spillage into the James River may reach Richmond.

    Was there a separate “oil taker” train wreck explosion in Richmond as the headline seems to state ?


  • Elaine in Roanoke

    I was born and raised in Lynchburg. The city and the river have a history that goes back to its founding as a ferry across the James. One sad thing to me is that this environmental disaster happened at a place that the city has been rehabilitating and trying to turn into a tourist attraction. The railroads of this country carry cargoes that often are dangerous. Seldom do people know just what’s passing through their communities. In this instance, the fire department feared using water on the fire because they had no idea what they were dealing with. At the very least, each train should have a manifest of cargo so that people can quickly discover just what poisons have been released in their areas.

    Back in the 1980’s, when I lived in Amherst County, my family – including a terminally ill member – had to evacuate our home when a freight train derailed and released toxic materials. This happens far too often.

    The sooner we wean ourselves from oil and gas, the sooner we will make such horrible accidents a thing of the past.

  • pontoon

    were spilled into the water and estimating that half of it burnt off in the explosion and resultant fire.  I also heard on the news it is the really nasty shale oil that no one knows how to clean up…not that we are very good at cleaning up any oil spill.

    While it is terrible environmental disaster to have all that oil floating down the James, Lynchburg was quite lucky that the tankers didn’t fall the other way, into the city, and explode.  There were no injuries at all today and had the railroad cars fallen toward the city, I fear it would have been a much different situation.  The old depot has been changed into a restaurant and the Amazement Square museum for children are adjacent to where the derailment occurred, not to mention many other businesses and the apartment buildings which have been renovated one block up from the river.  Employees from Griffin Pipe which is located along the river could not get out because the tankers were blocking their exit access.  

    I saw some cell phone video taken by the owner of a business on the Amherst County side of the river.  The fire was shooting up 80 to 90 feet in the air and was 300 to 400 yards up and down the river from the derailment. If that had occurred on land, there would have been many, many injuries.  

    It is my understanding Canada has recently required railroad companies to use a different tanker that is much less likely to rupture in a derailment.  I’d say we should do the same, but I’m sure our wonderful Congress would fight any legislation requiring a change that would protect not only our environment but the millions of citizens who live along rail lines in this country.