A CSX Corp oil train that derailed and erupted in flames in West Virginia on Monday was hauling newer model tank cars, not the older versions widely criticized for being prone to puncture, the firm said.
All of the oil tank cars on the 109-car train were CPC 1232 models, CSX said late Monday. The train, which was carrying North Dakota crude to an oil depot in Yorktown, Virginia, derailed in a small town 33 miles (54 km) southeast of Charleston.
The CPC 1232 is the newer, supposedly tougher version of the DOT-111 cars that were manufactured up until 2011. The DOT-111 cars have been faulted by regulators and operators for a number of years. U.S. and Canadian authorities, under pressure to address a spate of fiery accidents, are seeking to phase out the older models.
On Monday, as many as nine or 10 cars on the CSX train erupted in flames following the derailment, and at least one careened into the nearby Kanawha River. No one was reported seriously injured, but the fire destroyed one house and two nearby towns were evacuated.
Billowing flames could still be seen coming from several rail cars late Monday. The cars were being allowed to burn themselves out.
It was the second significant oil-train incident in three days following a Canadian National Railways train from Alberta’s oil sands that derailed in a wooded area of northern Ontario on Feb. 14. CN said 29 of 100 cars were involved and seven caught fire. No injuries were reported.
It was also the second derailment in a year along the same CSX line. A similar incident in Lynchburg, Virginia, involved a train that was also headed to Plains All American Pipelines LP’s oil depot in Yorktown, Virginia.
A boom in oil shipments by rail and a spate of derailments across North America have put heightened focus on rail safety. In July 2013, 47 people were killed in the Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic after a train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded.
(Reporting by Jonathan Leff in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)