West Virginia Derailment Raises Questions in Safety Law

West Virginia Derailment Raises Questions in Safety Law
Image from Flickr by Jeff Kubina

The train derailment in West Virginia on Monday raised questions regarding the effectiveness of the safety laws.


The American Association of Railroads required tanker cars to cohere with high specifications in order to avoid rupture in accidents.

CSX, the train company that owns the derailed tanker, said that their cars were remodeled to adhere to the standards.

Meanwhile, at White House, the increased safety requirements are under review. If approved, thousands of old tankers carrying inflammable materials would be phased out within a stipulated time.

Under the Federal order issued last year, the regulations regarding the requirement of trains carrying crude are needed to disclose the travel path of the trains.

However, a large number of states rejected this regulation. West Virginia is amongst that preferred to keep this a secret.

Melissa Cross, a program manager for the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management reiterated the reluctance of the state to oblige the ‘information propriety’ even after this derailment.

In a report from Yahoo, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said, “Obviously, we want to assure that when trains move through the state and on through the other states, that they’re operating safely. Those will be issues that will probably be resolved by our federal partners as we continue this investigation.”

The derailment of train carrying oil in West Virginia caused widespread panic with a massive fireball shooting up the sky, destroying a house and evacuating 200 to 300 people from their homes.

The train was carrying oil from North Dakota’s shale fields with a quantity of more than three gallons of crude.

The families have been evacuated as the derailed wagons caught fire leaking into the Kanawha River tributary.

However, no injuries were reported except one person, who has been treated for smoke inhalation, according to the report from CSX.

The train crew had been able to decouple the engine from the burning wagons and was kept unharmed.

Fortunately, there has no casualty as the train was travelling past businesses and homes in a town called Montgomery.

There was suspension of power near the accident site as Appalachian Power crews were called on Tuesday evening to restore power. A nearby water treatment plant that was closed down on the day of the accident is back online. The local residents evacuated were mostly back home.

In the town of Montgomery, the West Virginia University Tech cancelled classes because of water scarcity. However, testing found no crude oil at the Montgomery plant. The plant’s customers were advised to boil water for several days.

The flames keep on burning in the derailment location as of press time.