No deaths or injuries were reported as residents and others near the scene were evacuated safely, Lynchburg city officials said. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration have dispatched investigators to the site, each agency said. The Environmental Protection Agency was monitoring the air at the request of state officials, EPA spokeswoman Enesta Jones said.
Roughly 50,000 gallons of crude oil are unaccounted for, one city official said. Of that amount, some had spilled into the river, due to three tank cars themselves falling into the river. A spokesman for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality said it was "too soon to say" what the environmental impact of the accident would be, but noted the spill was contained before it stretched more than a quarter of a mile downriver. The river is a source of drinking water for several downstream communities, including Richmond.
Much of the unaccounted crude probably was incinerated by the resulting fire, which cast heavy smoke over Lynchburg on Wednesday afternoon. Firefighters on the scene let the fire burn itself out as they monitored the situation closely.
"CSX is responding fully, with emergency response personnel, safety and environmental experts, community support teams and other resources on site and on the way," the Class I railroad said in a statement. "We are committed to fully supporting the emergency responders and other agencies, meeting the needs of the community and protecting the environment."