This is the size of a blaze caused by a crashed oil truck in Roseburg, Oregon. Now imagine a whole crude oil train.
This is the size of a blaze caused by an oil truck crash in Roseburg, Oregon, back in 2006. Now imagine the size of the fire caused today by the 14 oil-train cars that derailed and went up in flames in West Virginia. TFoxFoto/Shutterstock

A 100-tanker-long crude oil train derailed in West Virginia today, setting 14 of the tankers ablaze. At least one crashed into the Kanawha River, the Associated Press reports. A water treatment plant three miles away from the crash shut down in response to the incident, and officials are evacuating two nearby towns. On a related note, the Washington Department of Ecology recently discovered that the number of oil trains carrying Canadian tar sands crude through Washington State has increased over the last four months.

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I wrote a little bit about the implications of more Canadian tar sands crude moving by rail through Washington State here. (Hint: They are not good.)

The Washington Environmental Council, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Lands Council issued a response to today's disaster, linking the oil industry's troubled safety record to new bills in Washington State that would attempt to prevent spills. The groups also urged the state to block oil train terminals in Grays Harbor and Vancouver.

“Today’s events are a tragedy and a warning," the statement reads. "It’s up to us to do what we can to protect our state.”

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