Many questions still remain after a 109-car CSX train hauling bakker crude oil derailed near Mount Carbon and Deepwater, West Virginia. The story has garnered national news attention when flames shooting hundreds of feet in the air forced over 1,000 people to evacuate the Fayette county area. Many residents had seen the train traveling through the Kanawha Valley at very high speeds before the accident during treacherous weather conditions that forced the closure of schools in every county in the state. It kind of reminds you of the movie “unstoppable” featuring Denzel Washington trying to stop an unmanned freight train. But no information has yet been released in regards of who was the train’s conductor or engineer and what the protocol is for trains traveling in hazardous weather conditions. Some also noticed other chemicals being hauled by the train. Some witnesses say that the train was also hauling Hydrochloric Acid and wonders if any seepage was detected from the corrosive chemical or if there was a detection of any vapor releases from the chemical.
Trains cannot stop quickly or swerve, and the average freight train is about 1 to 1 ¼ miles in length. According to the National Safety Council, If the train was moving about 55 miles per hour, it will take a mile or more to stop after the Locomotive engineer fully applies the emergency brake. “This accident is another reminder of the need to improve the safety of transporting hazardous materials by rail,” said Christopher Hart, who is the National Transportation Safety Board’s acting chairman.
The southern part of the state hasn’t seen much snow this season. The Charleston area had only seen about 7 inches of snow the entire winter until Winter Storm Octavia barreled through the Kanawha Valley on Monday dumping between 7-10 inches of snow. Boston Massachusetts on the other hand has seen more than its fair share of snowfall totals this winter. Over the last 30 days, the city has received more than 72 inches of snow. And the New England city garnered national attention when they implemented the use of a machine coined ‘Snowzilla’ — geared just for snow removal from its tracks. It’s a specialty rail car with a turbine and a nozzle/manifold at the end to direct 2,000 degree air onto the tracks ahead of it to melt the snow and clear the train lines.
Some may argue that this type of technology should be in place in West Virginia and many other states. Most agree that the trains speed and snow accumulation played a major part in the train’s derailment the cause of the derailment has not been released. Just Saturday — two days before the West Virginia wreck — 29 cars of a 100-car Canadian National Railway train carrying Bakken crude derailed in a remote, wooded area about 50 miles south of Timmins, Ontario, spilling oil and catching fire. In all, trains hauling Bakken-region oil have been involved in major accidents in Virginia, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Alabama and Lac-Megantic, Quebec, where 47 people were killed by an explosive derailment in 2013. Reports of oil leaking from railroad tank cars also are increasing, from 12 in 2008 to 186 last year, according to Department of Transportation records reviewed by The Associated Press.