(RICHMOND, VA)—Peggy Sanner, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Virginia Assistant Director and Senior Attorney, issued this statement concerning today's train derailment in downtown Lynchburg and significant crude oil spill into the James River.
"First and foremost, our hearts and thoughts are with the citizens of Lynchburg, and we are grateful there apparently are no injuries or losses of life associated with this accident.
"The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has been concerned about the increasing oil shipments passing through Virginia, especially in light of the oil transfer terminal in Yorktown, which is expected to receive up to 800 trains per year carrying an estimated 60,000-65,000 barrels of oil per train. CBF President William C. Baker recently wrote a letter to the U.S. Coast Guard asking for three actions to better understand and reduce the risks associated with an oil spill in the region. CBF asked for an evaluation of risks posed by increased oil transport, an assessment of readiness to respond to a spill, and for an open public dialogue on what is being done to avoid a spill in the region.
"The health of the upper James River is directly connected to the health of the Chesapeake Bay, and environmental damage there will be felt both locally and downstream. Oil is toxic to birds, aquatic creatures, and of course humans. Containing the spill should be a major priority. In coming days, CBF will be focused on the clean-up and future mitigation, as well as what can be learned from this accident."