Updated at 8:13 p.m.
A train carrying more than a dozen tanker cars of crude oil derailed and caught fire Wednesday near the James River in Lynchburg, Virginia, sending plumes of black smoke billowing into the sky. The incident is the latest in a series of crude tanker train accidents in recent years that have authorities working to address the problem.
No injuries were reported after the train, operated by the company CSX, derailed and crashed, blocking part of a road in Lynchburg and leaking crude oil into the James River. Employees at a nearby pipe foundry were unable to leave work due to the train blocking their exit from a parking lot.
The city of Lynchburg, which has a population of around 77,000, says the spill into the James River will have no impact on city drinking water. The city fire department will monitor the fire while allowing it to burn out.
Train derailments have increased in the U.S. in tandem with a sizeable uptick in the amount of crude oil being moved on tankers over the country’s rail system amid a national energy boom. Just last week National Transportation Safety Board Chairperson Deborah Hersman called on the Obama administration to do more to address the problem of train accidents.
"This is another national wake-up call," said Jim Hall, a former National Transportation Safety Board chairman. "We have these oil trains moving all across the United States through communities and the growth and distribution of this has all occurred, unfortunately, while the federal regulators have been asleep."