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Train Carrying Crude Oil Derails In Downtown Lynchburg, Va.

A CSX train carrying crude oil derailed in Lynchburg, Va., on Wednesday.

Luann Hunt, a spokeswoman for the city of Lynchburg, tells our Newscast unit that the area has been evacuated.

Approximately 12 to 14 tanker cars were involved in the derailment, Hunt said, causing flames and deep dark smoke.

Beverly Amsler, of NPR member station WVTF, tells us that at least three of the tankers ruptured because of the accident.

"Dozens of emergency personnel are on the scene," Beverly adds. "There are no reported injuries but there are reports some of the oil has gone into the James River."

Update at 5:03 p.m. ET. No Impact To Drinking Water:

The City of Lynchburg tweets:

The city added that the fire department has decided to let the fire burn out.

Update at 7:20 p.m. ET. New Standards:

It's worth noting that the U.S. was expected to announce new standards for tank cars carrying crude oil. The former Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board Deborah Hersman told Morning Edition during an exit interview that "the growing North American oil industry is leading to a railroad safety problem."

The government, Hersman said, believes more stringent safety standards are in order, but the industry is reluctant to make those changes because of money. Here's a key exchange between Hersman and NPR's Steve Inskeep:

INSKEEP: Do people just not want to spend the extra money?

HERSMAN: Well, it is a huge commitment of resources, $3 billion to address these tank cars is what we heard this past week from the industry. But at the end of the day, when you have an event like Lac-Megantic, money should never be the issue. And you can't ever make up for something like that.

INSKEEP: But I'm asking you if you believe money is the issue. Have you had industry groups who have just said this is too expensive?

HERSMAN: Absolutely, follow the money - it all comes back to the money. Making these heavier, stronger tank cars reduces the amount of product that can be put in the cars.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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