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Two Oil Train Derailments in 72 Hours in West Virginia, Northern Ontario

Local media are following two oil train derailments in less than 72 hours, one near West Virginia’s Kanawha River and the other along in isolated stretch of track in northern Ontario.

A day after a shipment from North Dakota’s Bakken region derailed in Fayette County, WV, triggering explosions and 100-yard-high flames in a rural subdivision, local authorities were reporting minimal local impacts: oil spilled into Armstrong Creek, at the mouth of the Kanawha, but three the tests on the river itself showed no oil in the water. “There were no rail cars that actually made it into the river,” said Laura Jordan, spokesperson for West Virginia American Water Company, which runs the local water treatment plant.

But state senators were already pointing to the incident as an example of the state’s continuing problems with drinking water contamination. “We may have people, we may have coal, we may have oil and gas, we may have commerce, and we may have jobs, but the first thing we need is clean water,” said Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall).

“Nobody in this state, no industry, wants to come and locate here if their kids are going to glow in the dark because their water isn’t safe.”

In northern Ontario, meanwhile, the Globe and Mail reports that a Canadian National Railway oil train carrying 100 tank cars derailed and caught fire Sunday morning, 60 kilometres south of Timmins.

“Twenty-nine cars jumped the tracks and seven were still on fire on Sunday afternoon,” writes reporter Eric Atkins. “The train was visually inspected and went through a checkpoint that automatically detects mechanical problems 20 miles before the derailment. The track was visually inspected on Saturday and cleared by a rail flaw detector in the past week.”