In Lac Megantic, Quebec, a train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in that small town, killing nearly 50 residents, flattening a 30 block area, and contaminating the town. CSX has not specified which kind of oil might be transported through the VAT (merely saying that some hazardous materials and oil are permitted, via a press release from Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton’s office.) Click here for a larger (PDF) image of the area a similar disaster would affect if it happened on Capitol Hill: L-M Blast Radius 10-13-13 – SM Discover more links on this disaster on our resources page.
Click here to see a larger version of this very detailed map of the possible “Limits of Disturbance”: LOD – Options 2-3 Graphic Providing detail not found in the above CSX map, this graphic illustrates proposed temporary tunnel locations and the location of the proposed permanent tunnel under two of the potential construction scenarios. See our Impact on You and Resources pages for more information.
The CSX “Area of Potential Effects” map is viewable on our Impacts page. Take a look and see which area historic sites, military bases, places of worship, homes and businesses will be directly affected by this project.
The Hill Rag featured an article about the VAT in their most recent December issue. “Tunnel of Controversy: Capitol Hill residents rally against CSX renovation of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel.” Click on link to read.
The VAT project gains national attention in a front page Thinkprogress.org article, which details the security risks inherent in the VAT, community opposition, and the challenges citizens face who want hazmats rerouted and community safety prioritized. You can read the article here: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/12/05/3010941/secret-chemicals-rail/
“But that risk [of derailment] would significantly increase under a proposal by CSX which is currently being considered by the U.S. and D.C. Departments of Transportation. If approved, the company would dig a massive trench, and uncovered freight trains would carry crude oil and other hazardous materials in the open, less than 50 feet from the homes of families, children, and seniors and less than one mile from the U.S. Capitol building. A residential tree-lined block would be bowled over, dug out, fenced in, and would stay that way for at least five years.
The proposed open trench is part of a larger effort by CSX to reconstruct the Virginia Avenue Tunnel (VAT), an underground freight rail that extends from 2nd to 11th street in the historic Capitol Hill and Navy Yard neighborhoods of southeast D.C. In its current state, the more than 100-year old tunnel has a dirt floor and a single track. CSX’s proposal would add a second track for two-way traffic, a concrete floor, and added height capacity for double-stacked trains. For the approximate six years it would take to rebuild, the company has proposed three different methods to run freight traffic in the meantime. All three options include digging out a temporary trench next to the tunnel reconstruction where the large diesel-fueled trains would run through the city…”