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CSX agrees to proposed $361,000 penalty after oil spill into James River

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Posted at 2:09 PM, Feb 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-23 14:09:55-05

RICHMOND, Va. – The state’s lead environmental agency proposed that CSX pay a $361,000 penalty in response to the derailment of a railcar that spilled oil and caught fire in the James River in Lynchburg.

Thirteen of 105 cars derailed on April 30, 2014, and three ended up in the James River where it winds past downtown Lynchburg. The train was made up entirely of tank cars full of Bakken crude oil, officials confirmed.

An investigation by the Department of Environmental Quality and CSX later determined that of the more than 29,000 gallons of crude oil in the breached tanker, approximately 98 percent was consumed in the fire.

DEQ said that they monitored water quality for several days along the river from Lynchburg to Richmond and observed no other environmental concerns at the time.

Derailed CSX freight train leaks oil into James River

Derailed CSX freight train leaks oil into James River

The consent order issued by DEQ is based on state law that prohibits release of oil to land or water. The agency said that CSX has agreed to the consent order, which is also called for CSX to pay more than $18,500 for DEQ’s investigative costs following the oil spill.

In addition, CSX will complete restoration of the James River bank in the area of the derailment and conduct monitoring of the river to determine if there are any long-term environmental impacts from the incident.

The public has until March 25, 2015, to submit comments on the order before it goes to the State Water Control Board for final approval. The proposed consent order is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.

The amount of oil shipped by rail has increased fourfold since 2005 amid a drilling boom in North Dakota and Canada. Those shipments have been under scrutiny since the derailment and fire that killed 47 people in a small town in Quebec in 2013, and environmentalists have warned against having trains haul oil through downtown Lynchburg.

The CSX line runs from Lynchburg through the Richmond area into Hampton roads in highly populated areas near homes and businesses.