West Virginia train derailment sends tanker with crude oil into river; sparks house fire

Energy Associated Press

A train carrying crude oil derailed in southern West Virginia on Monday, sending at least one tanker into the Kanawha River and sparking a house fire, officials said.

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There were no immediate reports of injuries. Nearby residents were told to evacuate as state emergency response and environmental officials headed to the scene about 30 miles southeast of Charleston.

The state was under a winter storm warning and getting heavy snowfall at times, with as much as 5 inches in some places. It's not clear if the weather had anything to do with the crash.

Public Safety spokesman Lawrence Messina said responders at the scene reported one tanker and possibly another went into the river. Messina said local emergency responders were having trouble getting to the house that caught fire. He did not know if anyone was inside the house.

West Virginia American Water spokeswoman Laura Jordan said the company shut down a water treatment plant, located about 3 miles away, at about 2:30 p.m. The plant serves about 2,000 customers.

State health officials said another water plant downstream in the town of Cedar Grove also closed its intake.

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The U.S. Transportation Department is weighing tougher safety regulations for rail shipments of crude, which can ignite and result in huge fireballs.

Responding to a series of fiery train crashes, the government proposed rules in July that would phase out tens of thousands of older tank cars that carry increasing quantities of crude oil and other highly flammable liquids. It's not clear how old the tankers were on the derailed train.