Virginia's governor is setting up a task force to examine safety on railroad tracks.
Governor Terry McAuliffe made that announcement Friday morning during a visit to Lynchburg.
He was there to see the site of last week's train derailment along the James River.
Seventeen cars carrying crude oil went off the tracks, dumping fuel and wreckage into the river.
McAuliffe plans to assemble experts from the public and private sectors. They will look at ways to improve rail safety and the way hazardous materials are transported through the state.
"We were fortunate with this (accident), but we have to remain ever vigilant to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe said.
The governor's office will release more information about the task force and its participants later Friday.
Three of the cars plunged into the James River and one caught fire, briefly causing parts of downtown Lynchburg to be evacuated.
The Department of Transportation issued an emergency order Wednesday requiring that railroads inform state officials about the movement of large shipments of crude oil through their states and urged shippers not to use older model tanks cars that are easily ruptured in accidents.
Here is the news release from Governor McAuliffe's office:
Today, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the creation of the Commonwealth’s Railroad Safety and Security Taskforce. The Governor’s announcement follows the April 30th derailment of a CSX freight train carrying crude oil shipped from the Midwest to Yorktown. The accident occurred in downtown Lynchburg adjacent to the James River.
“The train derailment that occurred on April 30 raises important public safety and health concerns,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “While fortunately no one was hurt, it is critical that we determine the cause of this accident to help better protect Virginia’s families.
The Railroad Safety and Security Taskforce will help ensure that the Commonwealth is a national leader in preventing, preparing for, and responding to these types of events.”
Earlier this week, Governor McAuliffe sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx highlighting his support to strengthen federal rules regarding the safety of rail cars carrying crude oil, as well as improved communication between the rail companies, first responders, and community officials.
The Governor’s new taskforce will include state agencies officials and subject matter experts. Members of the taskforce will be responsible for making recommendations—and taking action—to enhance Virginia’s capability to protect lives, property, and the environment along our many rail lines.