PHMSA Testing Bakken Crude at WV Derailment Site

"We continue to look into the composition of Bakken crude oil, which is why we took samples of the product to verify appropriate classification and whether emergency responders received the accurate information to respond to this derailment," said Tim Butters, PHMSA's acting administrator.

The Federal Railroad Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration both have personnel at the scene of the recent CSX freight train derailment outside Montgomery, W.Va., and they are conducting a "full-scale forensic investigation" of the incident. FRA is the lead federal agency charged with investigating the Feb. 16 derailment.

"With the response and recovery effort now complete and the dangers associated with the initial derailment now minimized, the FRA will now begin its thorough investigation into the derailment," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "I thank the emergency responders who stepped into harm's way to evacuate the affected communities, and I am eternally grateful that no residents were seriously injured."

The train consisted of 109 cars and two locomotives, and 27 tank cars filled with Bakken crude oil derailed near the Kanawha River, approximately 30 miles southeast of Charleston, the state capital. Besides the two DOT agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, and West Virginia state agencies have have personnel on site.

"We are grateful to the first responders for evacuating residents safely, and grateful to the Coast Guard, the EPA, and state and local agencies that worked together to immediately address urgent conditions at the derailment site," said Sarah Feinberg, acting administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration. "Now it is time for the FRA to begin our investigation into this incident in earnest, to identify any warranted enforcement actions, and to continue our work to ensure accidents like these do not continue."

FRA will inspect all damaged tank cars, recover damaged rail from the accident site, and review maintenance and inspection records for rolling stock, track, signals, and locomotives, while PHMSA is testing the crude oil to determine gas content, volatility, tank car performance, and to ascertain compliance with federal hazardous material regulations related to proper product classification. This information will be included in FRA’s final investigative report.

"We continue to look into the composition of Bakken crude oil, which is why we took samples of the product to verify appropriate classification and whether emergency responders received the accurate information to respond to this derailment," said Tim Butters, PHMSA's acting administrator.

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