The number of injuries and environmental disasters along America’s roads, pipelines, and railways involving the movement of oil and gas has proliferated in recent years along with domestic production. An enormous explosion in West Virginia on Monday reminds us of the potential hazards of such activity to the communities located along such transport routes.
On the afternoon of February 16, 2015, in southern West Virginia, fourteen tanker cars of a CSX train filled with oil derailed and exploded in a massive fireball hundreds of feet high, scorching the snowy hills, spewing plumes of dark smoke into the air, and dumping black crude into a town’s water supply by the gallon. Hundreds of local residents were forced to evacuate, and a home was obliterated by the blast. The town’s drinking water is contaminated, and at least one person was sent to the hospital suffering from smoke inhalation. “It was like an atomic bomb went off,” reportedly said one resident. See Nick Kirkpatrick and Justin Moyer, “The sky filled with fire after oil train derailed in W.Va.,” The Washington Post (Feb. 17, 2015), available here.
Federal agencies tasked with tallying such incidents have noted a striking increase in their frequency as the boom in North American energy production began. Such accidents are “becoming distressingly common,” having jumped to a peak last year of six times the average during the period of 1975 to 2012. In 2013, the number of gallons spilled in railway mishaps was 1.4 million – more than the combined total for all previous years since 1975, the year such records began. See Joby Warrick, “Trains are carrying – and spilling – a record amount of oil,” The Washington Post (Feb. 17, 2015), available here.
At Abraham Watkins, we have been representing injured workers, families, and property owners for over six decades against big companies who fail to protect the communities in which they operate. If you or someone you know has suffered injury or damage to your property as a result of someone else’s carelessness, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884.