Virginia Town Escapes Disaster as Oil Train Derails

But some CSX cars ended up in the James River in Lynchburg

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 30, 2014 6:06 PM CDT

(Newser) – A CSX train carrying crude oil derailed in the small town of Lynchburg, Va., today, and the AP reports that three tankers ended up in the James River. Nearby Richmond was preparing to switch to an alternate water supply, though officials said the river's high level will likely make that unnecessary, reports the Times-Dispatch. No injuries have been reported, and firefighters decided to let the fire burn itself out, which seemed to be mostly complete by this evening. Lynchburg, then, looked to be avoiding the fate of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, where an oil train derailment killed about 50 people in July.

"This is another national wake-up call," former NTSB chairman Jim Hall said of the Lynchburg crash. "We have these oil trains moving all across the United States through communities and the growth and distribution of this has all occurred, unfortunately, while the federal regulators have been asleep." By the NTSB's count, eight major oil train accidents have occurred in the US or Canada in the last year. Lynchburg is home to Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.

Firefighters work along the tracks where several CSX tanker cars carrying crude oil derailed in downtown Lynchburg, Va..   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
In this mobile phone photo provided Charles Peters, smoke rises after several CSX tanker cars derailed in Lynchburg, Va.   (AP Photo/Charles Peters)
In this mobile phone photo provided Charles Peters, smoke rises from the scene of the derailment in Lynchburg, Va.   (AP Photo/Charles Peters)
In this mobile phone provided Allison Hallock, people watch smoke rise from the derailment in Lynchburg, Va.   (AP Photo/Ali Hallock)
This mobile phone photo provided Stetson Jenkins shows smoke and flames at the scene in Lynchburg, Va.   (AP Photo/Stetson Jenkins)
This image made available by the City of Lynchburg shows the aftermath of the derailment.   (AP Photo/City of Lynchburg, LuAnn Hunt)
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