Virginia taskforce says oil train safety largely up to federal officials

A Virginia Railroad Safety and Security Task Force issued a draft report saying rail safety issues are largely up to the US government to address. The taskforce was formed in response to an Apr. 30, 2014, derailment of a train carrying crude oil from the Bakken formation to York County, Va.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe established the taskforce after crude from the derailment spilled into the James River. The focus of the taskforce was largely on rail transportation of flammable liquids, particularly crude oil and ethanol, its draft report noted.

“In the United States, promulgation and enforcement of rail safety and security regulations is generally reserved to the federal government,” said a draft report of the taskforce findings.

The 2014 derailment involved a CSX unit train as it passed through Lynchberg. The task force said it looks forward to the expected release of the National Transportation Safety Board report on the incident.

Meanwhile, Virginia state agencies have taken action toward more frequent inspection of identified crude oil shipping routes and continuous engagement with federal transportation officials, the report said.

Recent derailments of trains carrying Bakken crude oil across various states have prompted elected officials to request expedited federal efforts to address the safety of moving crude oil by rail (Unconventional Oil & Gas Report, Mar.-Apr. 2015).

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

*Paula Dittrick is editor of OGJ’s Unconventional Oil & Gas Report.

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