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NTSB in early investigation stages of CSX derailment in West Virginia

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) Office of Railroad, Pipeline, and Hazardous Materials are in communication with Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) officials and CSX Transportation emergency response crews regarding the CSX derailment that occurred Monday near Mount Carbon, W.Va., the NTSB announced yesterday.

The board will continue to monitor the situation, NTSB officials said in a press release. The derailment involved a train featuring two locomotives and 109 rail cars that was traveling from North Dakota to Yorktown, Va., and carrying crude oil. On-scene assessments determined that 27 tank cars derailed and 19 cars were involved in subsequent fires. One injury was reported — a person who was treated for possible respiratory problems — and the cause of the derailment still is unknown and under investigation.

CSX and the FRA are providing NTSB investigators with detailed damage reports and photographs of the derailed tank cars. All of the tank cars on the train were CPC 1232 models, according to CSX. The investigators will compare the data with tank-car design specifications and similar derailments, including ones that occurred in Casselton, N.D., in December 2013 and Lynchburg, Va., in April 2014.
After the derailment, some of the tank cars released an unknown amount of crude, some of which likely seeped into the Kanawha River, NTSB officials said. A one-half-mile evacuation zone was established around the derailment site.
"This accident is another reminder of the need to improve the safety of transporting hazardous materials by rail," said NTSB Acting Chairman Christopher Hart. "That is why this issue is included on our Most Wanted List. If we identify any new safety concerns as a result of this derailment, the board will act expeditiously to issue new safety recommendations."

CSX, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, West Virginia Departments of Environmental Protection and Military Affairs & Public Safety, including the National Guard, and several local agencies established a unified command presence at the site. CSX also established a community outreach center to address local needs.

Response crews are continuing to deploy environmental protective and monitoring measures on land, air and in the nearby Kanawha River, as well as a creek near the tracks.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/19/2015