Last Updated: May 16th, 2014 - 12:32:22


Lynchburg oil spill won't affect area's drinking water
By CAITLIN DAVIS, Senior staff writer
May 1, 2014, 17:47

Any possible oil that may have spilled into the James River from a train derailment in Lynchburg will not likely impact drinking water supplies in our area downstream, officials said.
A CSX transportation train with several cars filled with crude oil derailed in Lynchburg, around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. The oil spilled into the James River and officials in the surrounding counties have been monitoring the spill and continue to monitor the spill as the unknown quantity of oil starts to flow downstream.
Local news station for Lynchburg, WDBJ, reported that three tanker cars fell into the James River. Of those three cars, one was full, one was empty and the other was a third of the way full. The report also stated that the City of Lynchburg said approximately 50,000 gallons of crude oil are unaccounted of, however some may have burned off in the fire.
Hopewell City Manager Mark Haley said he is "not losing sleep" over the oil spill affecting residents in the city.
“We pull water from the Appomattox River,” Haley said. “It [oil] would have to come down and take a sharp right turn and then flow into the Appomattox.”
He further explained that the city uses a low water pumping station in the Appomattox River, which means the pipes that are pumping the water are subsurface.
Chesterfield County officials sent out a statement in the hours following reports of the derailment in Lynchburg.
Officials have stated that the water supply to its customers will be unaffected.
“Chesterfield County has physically isolated its supply of drinking water from Richmond, and will provide water service to country residents from its two other water sources, Swift Creek Reservoir and Lake Chesdin,” the statement reads.
John Giese, pollution response program manager, with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, said it is too early at this point in the spill to indicate just how polluted the water in the James River could become in the area.
“We do have staff going out now traveling down the river to see where the oil is,” Giese said.
In regards to fishing and swimming in the James River, Giese said though he does not have an official statement, he said the water in the river is running high and continues to rise due to the recent precipitation.
“Most are avoiding the river,” Giese said.
He also added that should anyone decide to enter the water to be on the lookout for petroleum and he would not recommend entering the water if there is visible petroleum.

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