Two towns have been evacuated after a freight train carrying more than 100 tankers of crude oil derailed and burst into flames in southern West Virginia on February 16.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin issues state of emergency in Kanawha, Fayette counties after train derailment.
At least 14 cars were affected and one plunged into the Kanawha River, state officials said.
Local websites published images of large flames and a thick plume of black smoke near a partly frozen river.
There are also reports that a train car crashed into a house, but there were no initial reports of fatalities.
Rail company CSX said in a statement that one person was being treated for potential inhalation, but no other injuries were reported.
Residents of Adena Village and Boomer have been urged to evacuate after the accident happened at 13:30.
State emergency response and environmental officials headed to the scene – a rural, coal mining area near Montgomery.
West Virginia American Water shut down a water treatment plant, located three miles away an hour after the derailment, spokeswoman Laura Jordan said. The plant serves about 2,000 customers.
The state was under a winter storm warning and getting heavy snowfall at times, with as much as five inches in some places. It is unclear whether the snow contributed to the crash.
The train consisted of two locomotives and 109 rail cars and was travelling from North Dakota to Yorktown, Virginia.
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Two companies have received US Commerce Department permission to export oil, after it has been lightly processed – a move that could see oil exports from the US increase.
Exports of unrefined crude oil produced in the US have been mostly banned for nearly four decades.
But there have been calls to ease that ban, not least due to rising oil production and a shale oil boom.
However, the White House said the move by the Commerce Department did not indicate a change in policy.
Two companies have received US Commerce Department permission to export oil
“As the Commerce Department has said, oil that goes through a process to become a petroleum product is no longer considered crude oil,” spokesman Josh Earnest said.
The US Commerce Department, which controls oil exports, has given permission to Pioneer Natural Resources Co and Enterprise Products Partners to ship a type of ultra-light oil to foreign buyers.
The US has restricted most crude exports since mid-1970s, in response to the Arab oil embargo.
While there have been calls for the restrictions to be eased, some have cited concerns that any such move may see fuel prices in the US rise and hurt domestic businesses and consumers.
However, some analysts said that the latest decision was unlikely to have an impact on domestic fuel prices.
Meanwhile, analysts also suggested that the ruling could see other firms take a similar route of processing oil in order to make it eligible for exports.
Such moves, they said, could see US oil exports increase in the short term.
Analysts say that some 200,000 to 300,000 barrels per day of US condensate could be exported by the end of this year and the volume could double in 2015.
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