Virginia environmentalists are concerned that an increase in tanker trains carrying crude oil to a new shipping center in Yorktown could lead to a serious environmental disaster.
The issue is the crude oil that is being shipped in from the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota. This is the same type of oil that has been involved in several derailments and explosions in the last few years in several places in Canada and the US. That same oil is now being shipped on railroads through heavily populated areas of Virginia.
According to Glen Besa from the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, the trains are going through Lynchburg along the James River and into Richmond, and then to the York County facility located on the York River. He is worried that a train derailment could lead to an explosion and fatalities. Or, an oil spill could hurt drinking water supplies and the environment overall.
The group stated this week that the tanker trains with the Bakken crude oil started to arrive in Yorktown in December 2013. It is calling on both the public and first responders to know the risks that are associated with these oil tanker trains. The group wants measures in place to prevent mishaps, as well as policies in place to properly respond to any issues.
The storage depot in Yorktown is the former Yorktown Refinery, which is a 600 acre facility that for more than 30 years converted crude into gasoline and several other fuels. It was shut down in 2010 and cost York County one of its biggest sources of tax revenue.
Plains All American Pipeline LP, based in Houston, bought the facility in 2011 for $220. Over the last two years, it spent $150 million to convert it into a transportation hub. CSX Transportation is providing rail service to the terminal.
CSX stated recently that it appreciates the concerns of Virginia residents, and that the firm places the highest priority on public and environmental safety.