State seeks consent order imposing a $361,000 penalty on CSX in response to oil rail car spill
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has proposed a consent order in response to the derailment of a railcar that caught fire in the James River in Lynchburg on April 30, 2014.
The order imposes a $361,000 civil charge against tanker car owner CSX Transportation Inc.
An investigation by DEQ and CSX determined that of the more than 29,000 gallons of crude oil in the breached tanker, about 98 percent was consumed in the fire. DEQ said in a press release that it checked water quality for several days along the river from Lynchburg to Richmond and observed no other environmental concerns at the time.
The consent order is based on state law that prohibits release of oil to land or water.
The order, to which CSX has agreed, also calls for CSX to pay more than $18,500 for DEQ’s investigative costs following the spill. In addition, CSX will complete restoration of the James River bank in the area of the derailment and conduct monitoring of the river to determine if there are any long-term environmental impacts from the incident.
The public has until March 25, to submit comments on the order before it goes to the State Water Control Board for final approval.
Since the Lynchburg spill, CSX had another one on Feb. 16, in Mount Carbon, W.Va., about 30 miles from the state’s capital of Charleston. In both cases, rail tanker cars were carrying Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to an oil-shipping depot in Yorktown.
In West Virginia, CSX was carrying 3 million gallons of crude oil. About 20 tanker cars jumped the track, causing a fireball that burned one home to the ground and forced the evacuation of two towns and temporarily closed two nearby water treatment plants.
After the second spill, Virginia Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine urged federal regulators to move up its review of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s proposed regulations regarding operational controls for high-hazard flammable trains.
“We must enact new, stronger standards for these tank cars that carry dangerous materials through our communities,” Sens. Warner and Kaine wrote in a Feb. 20 letter to the administrator of the Office of Management and Budget. “The sooner these standards are in place, the sooner manufacturers can bring safer tank cars to market. Until then, the industry continues to wait for clearer direction, and thousands of Virginians along this route bear the risk of future accidents.”
Sens. Warner and Kaine are lobbying for regulations requiring the strongest possible tank cars, and a requirement that railroads transporting Bakken crude oil notify emergency response officials in the communities along the rail corridor.