Oil Train Derails, Explodes, and Spill into West Virginia's Kanawha River: Stop the Madness

An oil train derailed, exploded, and spilled crude oil into the Kanawha River in West Virginia.  According to Reuters, two nearby towns - Boomer Bottom and Adena Village - are being evacuated.  At least one home was reportedly destroyed in the fire, and oil was burning on the Kanawha River this afternoon.  Downstream water agencies have been ordered to shut off their intake valves, and local residents are being asked to conserve water for essential uses only.

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The Charleston Gazette described the incident: "The 109-car CSX train derailed in the community of Adena Village near Mount Carbon and Deepwater. At least one tank car ended up in the Kanawha River, and another car slammed into a house and burst into flames...The train was carrying oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota to a refinery in Yorktown, Virginia..."  Reports indicate that one tank car fell in the River, 14 caught fire, and several exploded.

Photo from Charleston Gazette According to multiple reports, smoke and fumes from the fire are impacting people for miles around.  Hundreds of residents from up to a mile and a half away were being evacuated this afternoon, according to the local NBC news affiliate.  This evening, emergency crews continue work to control the fire from the derailed, burning tank cars.  One local resident, Ruthie Willis Collins, captured video of the exploding oil train about a mile from her home: (See video). Another resident described his experience to the Charleston Gazette of seeing the explosions and fire spread from the derailment, "It was crazy...I started to sweat." What Will It Take to Change Course? The derailment and explosion in West Virgina is the second major oil-by-rail incident in the past three days.  Late on Saturday night, a train carrying heavy tar sands crude derailed and caught fire in Northern Ontario in a very remote area.  The fire from the spilled tar sands oil in Ontario was still burning on Monday.  The incidents in Ontario and West Virginia demonstrate, once again, that both tar sands oil (a very heavy type of crude oil) and Bakken shale oil (a lighter, more explosive form of crude) pose serious spill and fire risks.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, oil companies are planning to ship enormous quantities of crude oil, including a proposal by Tesoro and Savage companies to build the largest oil-by-rail terminal in the United States on the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington, and plans to expand the Global Partners oil-by-rail terminal near Clatskanie, Oregon.