911 Train Derailment Tapes Released - WSET.com - ABC13

911 Train Derailment Tapes Released

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Lynchburg, VA - The 911 recordings from Wednesday’s train derailment in downtown Lynchburg were released Monday, and the terror in the voice of some of the callers, is obvious.

You can hear men and women frantically scrambling to get help to the downtown disaster.

"Lynchburg 911, what's the address of the emergency?" asked the dispatcher.

"We're on Jefferson Street right now next to the tracks; we see the derailing of a train. There's a large fire, a lot of smoke” said one caller.

Firsthand accounts of the downtown trail derailment came to life Monday.

"Do you know if anyone's on the train?" asked the dispatcher.

"No it appears just to be a cargo train. I guess it's carrying some type of flammable liquid” said the caller.

"It really looks like it's going to explode and I've got to get out of here, I've got to move, I'm sorry” said another man.

This caller was frantic, losing his train of thought, while watching the flames fly.

"I came down by the City Hall and I saw huge black smoke. Oh my God, I can't believe, I'm sorry” he said.

"Ok, we've got someone on the way” said the dispatcher.

"It's like a huge ball of flames, it looks like it's getting worse and it's definitely a chemical spill probably” he replied.

Five days later, cars are clear from the river.  Tracks have been relayed and trains have resumed travel.

But knowing now of the potential for what can happen here, there’s a new push.

"It caused us some significant worry and we really want to understand, what is the Federal DoT doing to make sure the regulations appropriately keep communities safe” said Senator Tim Kaine.

Virginia Senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner urged the Department of Transportation Monday, to mandate upgrades in the transportation of crude oil by train, and to make sure cities are prepared to handle derailment disasters.

"You can't prepare for a hazmat incident if you don't know what exactly is being shipped.  Your plan is only as good as the information you have about what's coming through your community” he said.

Kaine said NTSB recommendations are one thing; whether they become safety standards is another.  He said standards have got to be the case; Americans are transporting more oil by train now, than we were any year over the last decade.

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