Twenty-five cars of a CSX Corp. train carrying more than 100 tankers of crude oil derailed near Mount Carbon, West Virginia, Feb. 16, some exploding and sending flames at least 300 feet into the air. The wreck contaminated the Kanawha River, downed power lines and forced the evacuation of 2,400 people from two towns. Last April, 13 tankers on the same route derailed in Lynchburg, Virginia, igniting a fire and contaminating the James River.
The tank cars, each carrying 33,000 gallons of crude oil, were the newer CPC 1232 models — as were the ones that leaked and burned in Lynchburg and in another derailment in New Augusta, Mississippi, in January 2014. The rail bosses claim these cars are more rupture resistant than the older DOT-111 tanks, large numbers of which are still in use, but the recent accidents show the inadequacy of the “superior” version.
As of Feb. 17 the tank cars in West Virginia were still burning, more than 800 homes were without power and as many as 6,000 people without water, according to the Charleston Gazette. On Feb. 14, 29 oil cars on a Canadian National Railway Co. train derailed near Gogama, Ontario. Three days later some of those cars were also still on fire.
Worker correspondents for the Militant are on their way to Mount Carbon to talk to workers and farmers about the derailment and the fight for safety.