Thursday, February 26, 2015

Oil Train Explosion in West Virginia Highlights Potential Danger in New Jersey

By Candace Mitchell

A 109-car oil train derailed in West Virginia on Feb. 16, causing a huge explosion as at least nine train cars caught fire and burned, The New York Daily News reported. The black smoke and flames pouring into the sky in West Virginia is a reminder of the potential danger of the CSX Transportation Inc. trains carrying crude oil through North Jersey.

The train, which was hauling oil from North Dakota, derailed at about 1:20 p.m. near Mount Carbon, forcing residents within a one-mile radius to evacuate, according to The Daily News.

Environmental threats were a large concern following the derailment because at least one car tipped over, spilling oil into the Kanawha River, The Daily News reported. The spill caused West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to issue a state of emergency and water treatment plants down river from the spill were closed by state health officials.

“CSX teams also are working with first responders to address the fire, to determine how many rail cars derailed, and to deploy environmental protective measures and monitoring on land, air and in the nearby Kanawha River,” CSX said in a statement.

The explosion in West Virginia highlights the potential danger of the CSX trains that run through our backyards. According to, millions of gallons of crude oil pass through Bergen Country neighborhoods every day, including Norwood, Harrington Park, Closter, Haworth, Dumont, Bergenfield, Teaneck, Bogota, Ridgefield Park and Ridgefield.

An explosion in North Jersey would present a very similar situation to what is currently occurring in West Virginia. In North Jersey, the CSX lines travel over the Oradell Reservoir. A derailment could potentially pollute the reservoir, which provides drinking water to 750,000 people.

The train derailment in West Virginia is not the first scare. The state of Virginia announced that it is proposing a $361,000 civil fine against CSX for the derailment of a train carrying crude oil in Lynchburg on April 30, The Roanoke Times reported. The derailment in Lynchburg spilled 29,000 gallons of crude oil into the James River, about 98 percent of that oil burst into flames, but a remaining 390 gallons was left in the river.

Derailments of this kind are becoming more and more common, making the threat of possible danger to communities and the environment a greater possibility.

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