- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A lawsuit has been filed against CSX Corp. on behalf of southern West Virginia residents living near the site of a fiery oil train derailment.

Charleston attorney P. Rodney Jackson said Tuesday that the lawsuit was filed for more than 200 residents of Fayette County.

Twenty-seven of the train’s 109 cars derailed during a Feb. 16 snowstorm in Mount Carbon. Twenty cars leaked crude oil, some of which burned or seeped into the ground.

Among numerous allegations, the lawsuit said the derailment caused an interruption of the plaintiffs’ lives that included the evacuation of homes and lost income. It accuses the company of failing to properly operate the train and inspect, maintain and repair the train, tank cars and tracks. It also seeks medical monitoring for exposure to burning oil.

The lawsuit said the release of contaminants interfered with public health and safety. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said oil from the tank cars caused a sludge deposit in the Kanawha River and an adjoining creek, causing a sheen along the water’s edge. Two water treatment plants downstream closed their intakes temporarily after the derailment and customers were asked to conserve water.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Wayne County Circuit Court, where CSX has rail lines. It seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages, along with a jury trial.

CSX declined comment on the lawsuit Tuesday.

Under a March consent order with the EPA, the railroad agreed to a long-term plan for cleaning up and restoring the area around the derailment.

The train was carrying 3 million gallons of Bakken crude, bound for Yorktown, Virginia. In recent years, trains hauling crude from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana have been involved in fiery derailments in six states.

The Federal Railroad Administration is investigating the West Virginia accident, which shot fireballs into the sky, burned down a nearby house and caused fires on the ground that smoldered for days. The owner of the destroyed home was treated for inhalation injuries. No one else in the area was hurt.

The cause of the derailment hasn’t been released. Speed had previously been ruled out as a factor. The FRA has said the train was going 33 mph at the time of the crash. The speed limit was 50 mph.

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