Sen. Mark Warner, (D-VA), is telling federal regulators and the oil and rail industries that there must be action to reduce public risk from trains carrying hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil.
Warner held a safety forum on train safety in Richmond, Virginia last week, and he was not pleased that the Federal Railway Administration did not participate. “I am not pleased that the FRA bailed on this meeting,’ he said.
The senator has been calling on industry to put some profits into making safer rail tanker cars, and also to provide funds for state emergency workers who must respond to accidents that involve explosive Bakken crude. A train loaded with over 100 tanker cars of that oil derailed in Lynchburg last month and sent three tankers into the James River.
Warner wants federal regulators to speed up the slow rule making process to increase safety mandates on crude oil shipments from the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota.
No one was hurt in the wreck in Lynchburg, where 17 tanker cars in total derailed. But the incident occurred in front of a children’s museum and a popular eatery that was crowded with several hundred people. One of the cars that flew into the river broke open, which sent over 30,000 gallons of oil up in flames and into the river.
These oil trains from North Dakota often rumble through Lynchburg along the river through downtown. They are on the way to a storage/transfer facility in Yorktown that plans to soon be able to handle two fully loaded trains of crude per day.
The Lynchburg wreck tore a six foot hole in one of the oil cars. That car was built with a stronger and safer design than regular tanker cars. The Department of Transportation has warned that oil shippers and railway firms should use stronger tanker cars to carry the Bakken crude.