On July 24, 2018 the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and State of West Virginia announced a settlement with CSX Transportation Inc. to resolve its liability for state and federal water pollution violations related to a 2015 oil spill caused by a train derailment in Mount Carbon, West Virginia. Under the terms of the settlement, CSX Transportation will pay penalties of $1.2 million to the United States and $1 million to West Virginia.
“Federal law requires the transport of oil through communities like Mount Carbon to be done safely, whether by rail or any other mode. When accidents happen and public health or the environment is harmed, the Justice Department will respond with strong action in close coordination with our federal and state partners,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Today’s settlement imposes serious fines under the Clean Water Act for the 2015 CSX train derailment in West Virginia and seeks to deter similar incidents from happening in the future. I applaud the joint efforts of DOJ, EPA, and the State of West Virginia on this case.”
“The 2015 CSX train derailment in Mount Carbon, West Virginia caused significant damage and disruption to that community,” said EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine. “Through this settlement EPA, DOJ, and the State of West Virginia are holding CSX Transportation accountable for these consequences.”
On February 16, 2015, a CSX Transportation train with 109 railcars carrying crude oil derailed in Mount Carbon. Twenty-seven tank cars, each containing approximately 29,000 gallons of Bakken crude oil, derailed, and about half of the tank cars ignited. The resulting explosions and fires destroyed an adjacent home and garage. Local officials declared a state of emergency, nearby water intakes were shut down, and residents in the area were evacuated.
EPA and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection joined with other federal, state, and local agencies in responding to the incident. In response to federal and state orders, CSX Transportation has taken steps to remedy the damage and disruption caused by the oil spill. Separately, under a state-negotiated provision, CSX Transportation will help improve surface water quality in the area impacted by the oil spill through a contribution of $500,000 to a state-administered fund to upgrade a water treatment facility in Fayette County, West Virginia.
Some of the oil discharged during and following the train derailment flowed into the Kanawha River and Armstrong Creek. Freshwater bodies are particularly sensitive to fuel spills, which may damage fish and bird habitat and threaten drinking water supplies.
The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. To view the consent decree or to submit a comment, visit the department’s website at: www.justice.gov/enrd/