Crude Oil & Coal Trains

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

In 2014, there was an oil train derailment and explosion in downtown Lynchburg was 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, Baltimore and DC. 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, our region in 2014 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 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.

Latest Posts

Coal Trains: Dust Pollution is a Real Problem

If you live, work or commute along the Anacostia, Potomac, Susquehanna or James Rivers, you have probably seen train cars filled to overflowing with coal traveling alongside these waterways. These railcars are typically not covered, so the dust flows freely into the air as they make their way down the rail line. In fact, an … Read more

Deadly Crossings, from Waterkeeper Alliance & Forest Ethics

New Investigative Report Documents Nation’s Neglected Rail Infrastructure Waterkeepers from across the country identify significant areas of concern with 114 railway bridges along known and potential routes of explosive oil trains NEW YORK, NY AND SAN FRANCISCO, CA – November 10, 2015 –Waterkeeper Alliance, ForestEthics and a national network of Waterkeeper organizations today in releasing … Read more

Marcus Constantino/Reuters

Waterkeepers Chesapeake Decries Another Crude Oil Train Explosion

Disaster on the Kanahwa River in West Virginia is another example of a rail system not able to handle highly volatile Bakken crude oil transport. On Monday afternoon, a train hauling Bakken crude oil derailed along the Kanawha River in Fayette County, West Virginia. Twenty of the cars caught fire and a home was destroyed. There … Read more

Alan Lehman

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

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 … Read more