James River Association Meets To Discuss Lynchburg Train Derailment

Lynchburg, VA - The cleanup continues on the James River following that train derailment and fire in downtown Lynchburg. Officials from the James River Association met Wednesday to discuss the cleanup and the steps that need to take place, to make sure a disaster like that never occurs again. More oil than ever before is being transported along the James River and as a result, the concern over keeping riverside communities safe and the water clean, is greater than ever. "I saw the river that I'm supposed to be charged with keeping clean, on fire. It was sort of a shock and awe moment" said Pat Calvert. Calvert works for the James River Association. His office sits feet from where an oil tanker derailed, caught fire, and spilled more than 20,000 gallons of crude oil into the river he's tasked with keeping clean. "We need guarantees, we need assurances that this doesn't happen again. Not just in Lynchburg, but anywhere along the James River" said Calvert. That's why members of his organization met Wednesday to search for solutions. "We really dodged a bullet, but we shouldn't play Russian roulette" said Bill Street. Street is the James River Association's CEO. "Communities need to know what's coming through their communities so they can be ready and prepared, and we need to keep an eye out and if we see problems arising, we need to address them quickly" he said. The JRA is lobbying state and federal officials to require the disclosure of what chemicals are coming into which communities. Street said that will guarantee first responders can clean up a catastrophe like the one that occurred in Lynchburg, quickly and safely. "We want to start a conversation about making sure that we have proper protections in place" he said. Finally JRA officials are pushing to get DOT-111 tank cars to a safer standard. The cars have been involved in every major oil tanker fire over the last decade. They're already being phased out of operation in Canada, where they killed 49 people after exploding in the middle of a small town. "If it's not a wakeup call, then I don't know what is. Like I said, we dodged a bullet with this" said Calvert. James River Association officials, as well as leaders from Lynchburg had overwhelming praise for the fast and effective response by Lynchburg fire fighters and police officers, who they say kept the derailment from getting any worse.