Cleanup Begins After Crude Oil Spills Into James River in Train Derailment

Lynchburg, VA-Workers are now draining the remaining rail cars of that crude oil that spilled Wednesday in Lynchburg, but some 50,000 gallons leaked into the James River.

The City of Lynchburg will not be affected by this spill, but many cities downstream of us won't fair the same.

Officials are calling it a curse and a blessing that multiple cars carrying crude oil fell toward the James River, instead of the city after derailing.

"I think if the product and the fire had come into the city it could have been really a bad situation," said City Manager Kimball Payne.

"This is all moving downstream. It won't impact the drinking water source for the City of Lynchburg but Richmond's just downstream," said Pat Calvert, the Upper James Riverkeeper for the James River Association.

"We notified the Department of Environmental Quality right away and they notified everybody downstream that uses the water and I think that some of them are taking the appropriate steps to make sure they have a safe drinking water supply," said Payne.

The impact of the spill won't be fully known for days. Water quality tests are already being done by both the James River Association and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

"We're going to be monitoring this for the next hours, days, weeks, months," said Calvert.

The salvaging process for the remaining oil is underway, with CSX and railroad crews trying to relocate the mangled cars, without causing any more damage.

"We still have fire crews that will be down there all night though and the command post will be set up all night," said Payne.

But even a quick and thorough response by emergency crews couldn't prevent such a fiery and fierce event.

"It certainly opens up a conversation nationally about these trains and other forms of transportation for the chemicals and fossil fuels that we use every day," said Calvert.

Over the coming weeks the DEQ will be monitoring substance levels in the James River. Folks at the James River Association ask you to do the same as well. If you see any kind if irregularity or effect from this spill, you're asked to take a picture of it and send it to either agency.