CSX's accident response called slow

Va. fire chief: Wanted to know derailed oil train’s cargo

The fire official who led the response to a 2014 oil train derailment in Lynchburg, Va., criticized CSX Transportation, saying it took two hours for the company's representative to arrive at a command post after the wreck.

With fire and smoke billowing along the James River in Lynchburg, city fire battalion chief Robert E. Lipscomb said the sooner he could get answers about the train from the company, the better.

"I felt, from an incident commander's perspective, that that two hours was a little bit long," he told the National Transportation Safety Board a day after the April 30, 2014 accident. The derailment is still under investigation, and Lipscomb's comments were part of documents released this week.

Seventeen cars derailed near a restaurant and walking path near the James River. Three went into the river, one caught fire and nearly 30,000 gallons of oil were spilled into the river. The derailment briefly caused parts of downtown Lynchburg to be evacuated. No one was injured.

"What we were looking for at that point in time, as much as anything, was information from the engineer or a conductor," Lipscomb said. "We really wanted to know what was on that train."

National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway said the agency does not set response times for reporting to an accident site.

"However, NTSB will review the emergency response as it does in the majority of accident investigations and evaluate whether there were any significant issues that pertain to this accident," Holloway said in an email.

CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle declined comment on the NTSB documents, citing the ongoing investigation.

A Norfolk Southern representative who had arrived on site within 45 minutes determined the accident didn't involve the company's train. Authorities initially requested assistance from Norfolk Southern and CSX because both had rail lines along the river in Lynchburg.

Business on 08/22/2015