South Charleston mayor worried about oil trains

Charleston Daily Mail photo by Tom Hindman South Charleston Fire Chief John Taylor and Mayor Frank Mullens say they wish communication between city officials and CSX officials was better, but note that South Charleston’s fire department has been aggressive in learning ways to handle potential rail car emergencies.
Charleston Daily Mail photo by Tom Hindman South Charleston Fire Chief John Taylor and Mayor Frank Mullens say they wish communication between city officials and CSX officials was better, but note that South Charleston’s fire department has been aggressive in learning ways to handle potential rail car emergencies.
Charleston Daily Mail photo by Tom Hindman
South Charleston Fire Chief John Taylor and Mayor Frank Mullens say they wish communication between city officials and CSX officials was better, but note that South Charleston’s fire department has been aggressive in learning ways to handle potential rail car emergencies.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens is well aware that the oil train that derailed and burned near Mount Carbon on Feb. 16 passed through his city about 45 minutes before the crash.

The dual CSX tracks that course through South Charleston pass numerous residential neighborhoods, several factories and Interstate 64.

The tracks reopened Thursday. CSX spokesman Gary Sease told the media on Friday that the railroad has resumed a normal schedule, including trains with tank cars carrying Bakken crude oil like those that derailed, exploded and burned for four days at Mount Carbon.

No one — the federal government, which is the primary regulator of railroads; the state; or CSX — has told Mullens exactly when oil trains move through South Charleston.

Fire Chief John Taylor said, “We know they come through. I can’t really sit here and tell you the times but looking at it another way, I don’t really want to know” because if everyone knew the schedule, people who seek to do harm would have an easier time.

Mullens said, “I see what the chief is saying and I understand from an emergency service standpoint that concern. But I also agree there’s a difference between putting that information in the newspaper, out in the public, and giving it to local officials so we can be prepared and know what’s going on in our city.

“I’m not comfortable with the line of communication,” Mullens said. “I think they need to get better. We’ve had interaction with CSX in different areas in the past and it seems to be a difficult line of communication. It needs to be better…

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