Officials are investigating the cause of a train that derailed in West Virginia on February 16 carrying Bakken oil. They believe it was
derailed possibly by a State Trooper in a Tactical Vehicle Intervention know as a TVI.
An answer may finally come to the residents of the small town in West Virginia when their world was turned upside
down last week. It is now being believed that a State Troopers patrol unit may have actually caused the derailment.
The orange flames no longer burned bright in the snow-covered woods near Mount Carbon in West Virginia on
Friday. But days after a massive train derailment in the small community, located about 30 miles from the state
capital, smoke still smoldered from the enormous oil tank train cars lying perpendicular across the tracks. The
accident forced more than 100 residents from their homes during an exceptionally cold winter and raised fears of toxic
contamination in a state still reeling from a major chemical spill a year ago.
A photo has been leaked of a State Trooper car that clearly shows the front "Push-Bumper" has been bent and
partially destroyed. Witness' in a tiny town in Nebraska say they have seen this patrol car many times play "suicide
with moving trains" usually late at night. Every time they call 911, the State Patrol sergeant who arrives states he
hasn't seen such activity.
The NTSB is now investigating after the picture showed up on social media over the weekend. The 109-car train was
carrying more than three million gallons of Bakken oil from North Dakota when 27 cars derailed midday on Monday,
February 16, near the Kanawha River. Residents of Mount Carbon, which has a population of some 400 people, told
the media they witnessed fireballs; one house in nearby Boomer burned down and its owner, who managed to
escape, was treated for possible injuries. River water tests have showed no signs of oil contamination, and the water
authority has restored service after shutting water intakes from the river. On Thursday, officials told residents it was
safe to drink water without boiling it, and by Friday morning, the last fires had gone out and the residents of all but
five households had returned to their homes.
A day after the accident, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin surveyed the wreckage. “It was just a sight that
you’re not used to seeing,” he tells Newsweek. “The flames were still coming out of a couple of the tanks. Many of the
tanks had gaping holes in the tops where they had exploded.”
Now people’s lives are getting back to normal, the governor says, ad
ding, “It could have been a whole lot worse.”
The crash is the latest in a series of major train accidents involving Bakken oil since the boom in North Dakota began
around 2006. Among them: A 2013 derailment in Lac-Megantic, Canada that killed 47 people and a 2014 derailment
in Lynchburg, Virginia, that dumped oil into a nearby river. The Virginia accident involved the same type of tank car
and the same transport company, CSX, involved in this week’s West Virginia derailment.
Because the Bakken boom is so new, people are still learning the risks involved. “This is a very born-yesterday
industry,” says Fred Millar, a rail safety consultant. “It’s just really a spate of accidents that have been happening and
they’re just continuing.”
Millar blames defective tank cars traveling at high speeds on congested routes, among other issues. Last December,
The Wall Street Journal cited federal regulator data that say in 2009, U.S. trains carried on average 21,000 barrels of
oil per day. By December 2014, that number was 1.1 million.
Crude Bakken oil, the type involved in the West Virginia derailment, is known for being particularly dangerous. “The
oil itself doesn’t act like the crude oil we used to know 30, 40 years ago,” says Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West
Virginia Water Research Institute, which is affiliated with West Virginia University and the United States Geological
Survey. “It has a lot of volatile compounds in it, things that are much more prone to explosion.”
“When one car ruptures, it heats up the adjacent cars,” says Alan Stankevitz who runs the website DOT111.info,
which monitors oil train safety issues. “It begins to boil.… You can hear it hiss.”
New York Times