A train carrying more than a hundred tankers full of crude oil has derailed in West Virginia, sparking a massive fire and spilling untold amounts of oil into a river that provides drinking water for local communities. And there’s a big winter storm coming that will complicate the cleanup immensely.
Crude oil is pouring into a river that supplies drinking water and approximately 1,000 people have been evacuated from their homes due to an oil train derailment and explosion in southern West Virginia on Monday, according to media reports.
The train, owned by CSX Corp., was carrying more than 100 tankers of crude oil from the Bakken shale in North Dakota when it derailed at about 1:30 p.m., the L.A. Timesreported. Officials estimated that approximately 14 of those tankers were involved in the derailment and subsequent fire, which as of 9 p.m. was still raging. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency at around 5:40 p.m.
One home has so far been confirmed destroyed, and at least one person has been sent to the hospital for inhaling smoke. CSX put out a statement Monday night saying it would provide hotel rooms for displaced residents.
Concerns have also been raised about the potential contamination of local water-treatment facilities, after officials noted that at least one of the derailed tanker cars fell into the Kanawha River. The area is about 30 miles from the location where 10,000 gallons of a coal industry chemical called crude MCHM spilled and tainted the drinking water supply a little over one year ago.
Response efforts have so far been hampered by heavy snow. The area has been under a winter storm warning, according to the Associated Press, and is expected to get anywhere from 5 to 10 inches of snow tonight.
You know what has never happened in the entire history of the world? A huge spill of solar energy that destroyed the ecosystem. It’s time for a massive Tennessee Valley Authority-level project to advance solar and wind power to develop the next generation of renewable, non-fossil fuel energy production. But doing that would require taking away the ability of the oil, gas and coal interests to buy elections and politicians.