By John Cooper, Railroad Accident Injury Lawyer
The response of CSX to a major train derailment that caused a fire in Virginia has been criticized by a fire official.
An ABC News report stated the fire official who led the response to the 2014 oil train derailment in Lynchburg, Virginia, said it took a full two hours for the company’s representative to arrive at a command post after the wreck.
Fire battalion chief Robert E. Lipscomb said it had been important to get answers about the train from the company, as soon as possible.
“I felt, from an incident commander’s perspective, that that two hours was a little bit long,” he told the National Transportation Safety Board 24 hours after the April 30, 2014 accident. The derailment is still being investigated and Lipscomb’s comments were part of documents released this month.
The Lynchburg derailment and explosion was a serious episode. Miraculously nobody was injured. The accident saw 17 cars derailing near a restaurant and walking path near the James River. Three of the cars went into the river, one caught fire and nearly 30,000 gallons of oil ended up in the river. The derailment caused parts of downtown Lynchburg to be evacuated for a short period.
“What we were looking for at that point in time, as much as anything, was information from the engineer or a conductor,” Lipscomb said in the report. “We really wanted to know what was on that train.”
Given that trains can carry dangerous and explosive substances, it’s vital that first responders are given accurate information about what is on a train, as soon as possible after an accident. This does not appear to have happened in Lynchburg.
ABC quoted NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway who said the agency does not set response times for reporting to an accident site.
“However, NTSB will review the emergency response as it does in the majority of accident investigations and evaluate whether there were any significant issues that pertain to this accident,” Holloway said in an email.
CSX did not provide a response to the report. ABC reported that a Norfolk Southern representative was at the scene within 45 minutes and determined the derailed train was not a Norfolk Southern train. At the outset the authorities requested assistance from Norfolk Southern and CSX because both companies have rail lines running along the river in Lynchburg.
Lipscomb said CSX initially told authorities that someone was headed to the scene but didn’t provide many answers he needed such as where the locomotive was, whether the accident involved a tractor trailer and if there were any other factors.
The train was carrying Bakken crude from North Dakota. An oil boom in that state has increased the amount of Bakken crude that’s traveling through West Virginia and Virginia to an oil depot in Yorktown.
Given that a dozen oil trains derailments have occurred over the past two years in the United States and Canada, it’s crucial that railroads respond in a timely manner. Instead we have seen secrecy from the big railroads and obstruction. It’s a response injured railroad workers are all too familiar with. If you have been hurt in a derailment call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 866-455-6657.