The latest incident to involve the rail transportation of crude oil and the results when a derailment occurs was seen on Wednesday afternoon, April 30th, in Lynchburg, VA. There are several articles about the incident which contain both pictures and video of the incident and the resulting fire. Fortunately there were no deaths or serious injuries reported in this incident, unlike the Lac Megantic incident in Quebec last year.
Each of the incidents—Lac Megantic, Quebec; Aliceville, AL; New Casselton, ND and Lynchburg, VA—have involved DOT 111 rail tank cars releasing crude oil and quickly becoming involved in fire. Emergency response personnel need to be aware of the materials that are being transported through their areas and identify the resources required for an effective response.
When an incident occurs, responders need to remember the incident priorities—life safety, incident stabilization and property conservation. Quickly isolating the area involved with effective scene control is essential to the protection of emergency responders and the public we serve. It is also important to determine where the product is going when it comes out of its container. In Lynchburg, the product entered the James River and was being carried downstream with a high, swift current. Deployment of booms and notification of communities downstream were essential to reduce the potential impact.
These incidents require quick deployment of personnel and resources for an effective response. Specialized resources, such as foam, need to be identified and how to quickly procure sufficient quantities for an effective response need to be determined. The shipments of crude oil by rail are going to continue and even possibly increase. Emergency responders need to be prepared for these types of incidents.
Here are some links to the incident in Lynchburg, VA: