Local Waterkeeper Response to Train Derailment & Toxic Oil Spill on James River

Alan Lehman
Aerial view of train derailment, Lynchburg, VA, on the James River, May 1, 2014

Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake issued this statement about the CSX train derailment and crude oil spill and explosion on the James River in Lynchburg, Virginia on April 30, 2014:

“Our thoughts are with the residents of Lynchburg and first responders as they deal with explosion and toxic oil spill. Thankfully no one was injured.

Upper James Riverkeeper Pat Calvert has an office about 150 yards from the crash site. He and Lower James Riverkeeper Jamie Brunkow responded immediately and are now assisted by staff from Waterkeeper Alliance, Shenandoah Riverkeeper and other local Waterkeepers. They will monitor the impact on the river and assist in the clean up and future mitigation of this toxic oil spill.osion and toxic oil spill. Thankfully no one was injured.

This train derailment in downtown Lynchburg is a stark reminder that we need a national discussion about the safety and regulatory oversight of the transportation of hazardous materials through populated areas and sensitive environmental areas, especially along rivers that supply drinking water to cities such as Richmond.

We agree with Pat Calvert, Upper James Riverkeeper, who wants to see a larger discussion on what is appropriate for us to be transporting by rail, especially along our rivers. The amount of crude oil being transported by rail has grown exponentially due to the fracking boom. The federal rule making and oversight has not kept up.

In addition to the Lynchburg derailment, yesterday our region experienced a coal train derailment near Bowie, Maryland, and a sink hole that compromised CSX train tracks near Baltimore. These incidents along with the other train explosions involving crude oil in the U.S. and Canada over the past year are more than enough of a wake up call. We need a true assessment of the risks and costs of our reliance on dirty fossil fuels and real protections for our waterways.”

Oil tanker cars in James River, May 1, 2014








WKC letter to Governor McAuliffe