Train cars carrying crude oil were still burning last night, more than 24 hours after a derailment in West Virginia, and the New York Times describes the scene as a grim one, with "the dark plume of smoke visible from many miles away, and a bitter aroma of burning plastic" in the air. Hundreds of people were ordered to leave their homes after the crash, which burned one house to the ground. The train was carrying millions of gallons of crude oil from North Dakota to a ship terminal in Virginia, and while there was only one injury reported after Monday's crash, authorities fear it could be only a matter of time until there's another disaster like the oil train derailment that killed 47 people in Quebec in 2013 and are seeking stronger upgrades to train cars, the AP reports.
Train shipments of crude oil from the Bakken region surged from fewer than 10,000 carloads in 2008 to more than 435,000 in 2013, according to the AP, and reports of leaks and other incidents also soared from 12 in 2008 to 186 last year. All 109 oil cars in the train involved in Monday's accident were the newer, supposedly tougher CPC 1232 models, and the Department of Transportation is considering regulations that would bring stronger hulls and better braking systems even to the newer models, reports Reuters. Just two days before the West Virginia crash, seven cars caught fire when a train carrying around 100 cars of crude derailed in northern Ontario, reports the Sudbury Star.