When an oil train carrying more than 3 million gallons of crude derailed in West Virginia earlier this week, it left behind a stretch of blackened riverfront, the ruins of a smoldering house and a lingering question: Why does this keep happening?
The accident is yet another in a series of high-profile derailments that have hit communities around the country as oil-by-rail shipments have skyrocketed. Spurred by the boom in the Bakken oil patch, rail shipments have jumped from 9,500 carloads in 2008 to more than 435,000 in 2013, according to the AP. Most of those carloads don't jump the tracks and explode, but a small percentage does.
Federal regulators have called for upgrades to the tank cars used to haul the volatile oil. But the cars involved in this week's derailment were designed during voluntary upgrades adopted four years ago and already meet a higher safety standard than the law requires -- the third such accident in the past year.
These stunning aerial photos were taken by West Virginian Paul Corbit Brown, who lives just down the road from the site of the accident. He hired a plane to fly over the crash in an effort to document the devastation such derailments can cause. “It’s a mess,” Brown told Pixable.
Head on over to Pixable to see the rest of the pictures taken by Brown.