What We Know Three Days After the Fayette Co. Oil Train Derailment

Feb 19, 2015

Credit U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Angie Vallier

Investigators from the Federal Railroad Administration and the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration are on the scene of Monday's oil train derailment near Mount Carbon, W.Va. The incident sparked massive fireballs stretching hundreds of feet in the air. One home was destroyed in the incident and the homeowner was treated for smoke inhalation and then released. 

1. Some initial reports from the scene turned out to be incorrect.

Department of Military Affairs and Public safety spokesman Lawrence Messina said Monday that one and possibly more cars fell into the Kanawha River.

As a result, West Virginia American Water shut down intakes at their Montgomery and Cedar Grove. Those intakes were reopened after no evidence of crude oil was detected in the river. 

Messina and other officials, including the state Department of Environmental Protection, later said no tanker cars fell into the river and no evidence of oil could be detected.

2. Federal Authorities and CSX say the train was not speeding.

The Federal Railroad Administration said Thursday that the CSX-owned train that derailed was traveling at 33 mph. They said the speed limit in the area where the incident occurred was 50 mph.

Credit Crystal Collins / West Virginia Public Braodcasting

3. Fires continue to burn and containment is the focus of the response.

Kelley Gillenwater of the DEP said at least one small fire continued to burn Thursday morning. 

Environmental protective and monitoring measures on land, air, the Kanawha River and Armstrong Creek. Gillenwater said response crews vacuumed about 5,000 gallons of an oil-water mixture on Wednesday. CSX contractors, overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard and DEP, were able to deploy about 500 feet of containment boom as a precautionary measure to limit potential impact on the environment.  

Six rail cars have been re-railed for removal by recovery crews from the incident site, according to a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard's Joint Information Center, who is coordinating updates to media. They say CSX contractors began oil transfer operations from the damaged rail cars Wednesday and will continue transfer operations until the product is safely removed.

4. Quick Facts and Numbers on the Derailment

  • The train consisted of two locomotives and 109 rail cars (107 tank cars and two buffer cars).
  • 27 cars derailed and 19 were involved in fires.
  • The train was carrying a total of 3 million gallons of Bakken crude oil, according to the Associated Press.
  • Each of the tankers contained 29,500 gallons of oil.
  • CSX has notified the state Department of Homeland Security they plan to bypass the derailment site and continue deliveries to Virginia.