REUTERS/Marcus Constantino
View of a burning oil train owned by CSX Corp after it derailed in Mount Carbon, West Virginia, from across the Kanawha River on February 16, 2015.

Video: Raw Footage of Exploding Oil Train in West Virginia Shows Dangers of Rail Transport

ICTMN Staff
2/17/15

Another train carrying extra-flammable crude from the Bakken oil fields has derailed, this one in West Virginia, and a day later it is still burning as a several-day cleanup commences.

The derailment of a 109-car train headed to an oil depot in Yorktown, Virginia, from North Dakota on February 16 is adding literal fuel to the fiery debate over the proliferation of rail transport of crude. A dozen of the cars exploded into flames, and at least one, if not two, fell into the Kanawha River near Mount Carbon, West Virginia, authorities said. The flames engulfed a home as well. Though no fatalities were reported, at least one person was treated for smoke inhalation, according to Reuters. Two nearby towns were evacuated and water supplies cut off while the amount of contamination in the river was evaluated.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration cautioned a year ago that oil from the Bakken was more flammable than other types of crude.

RELATED: Feds Call Bakken Crude Volatile as Quinault Warn Against Oil Rail Transport

While oil-transport companies have said that older cars vulnerable to puncture were to blame, Reuters reported on February 17 that this train was composed of the newer, supposedly safer variety of car.

“West Virginia State Police First Sergeant Greg Duckworth, who was at the crash site, said that nine or 10 of the cars had exploded at intervals of about every half hour,” Reuters reported. “A similar sequence has occurred in a handful of other derailments over the past year and a half, with the fire from one tank heating up gases in the next nearest car, causing it to ignite.”

This occurred even as seven cars continued to burn in northern Ontario after a Valentine’s Day derailment of 29 out of 100 cars in a wooded area, Reuters reported. They were hauling crude from the Alberta oil sands, the news wire said.

Rail transport of oil has increased 400 percent in recent years, according to a report from ABC News. The Quinault Indian Nation has been outspoken in opposition to such transport, not just regarding terminals themselves—some of which are proposed in their territory—but also because of the overall damage that the continuing use of fossil fuels does to the environment they, and everyone, are charged with maintaining.

“Each area and each region has, I believe, a sacred trust and a sacred duty,” Quinault President Fawn Sharp told PBS in a report that aired on February 10. “When you are an elected official you need to make decisions that are based not only on the economics of a decision but the science, the culture, the history."

The video below provides graphic illustration of what can go wrong. 

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