Train Cars Carrying Oil Jump the Rails and Catch on Fire in Temriuk Region of Russia

Tamanneftegaz’s environmentally dangerous project spreads its wealth

This morning in the Temriuk region of Krasnodar Krai in Russia, a train headed for the Tamanneftegaz terminal near the village of Volna derailed, causing a serious accident. The Tamanneftegaz train, loaded with crude oil, was located in an area between the Vishesteblievsk train station and the village of Volna, about three kilometers south of the village of Primorsk, when it left the tracks. Twelve train cars overturned and five of them caught fire. The Tamanneftegaz emergency service, employees of the Ministry of Emergency Services of Temriuk region and members of the emergency service, RZhD, quickly dealt with the situation. Within three hours the fire was extinguished. No-one was injured in the incident.

According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations the possible cause of the accident was “activity of attackers who removed the pins that connect the rails.”

Vadim Novopashin, member of the board of Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus and deputy of the Council of Temriuk region, was at the site of the accident this morning. He reported that when he arrived, the fire was already out, and the area around the train cars was covered with white foam. The brown crude oil continued to leak from the overturned tankers. In his words, “this situation demonstrates that the increase in development pressure on the Taman Peninsula increases the danger of such accidents, and increases the threat to the population of the Temriuk Region. Unfortunately, the first thought of the majority of investors who implement their projects in our region is how to make money. Safety is only an afterthought. This accident demonstrates the poor quality of the railroad going to Volna; it does not comply with technical and safety standards and is poorly maintained. … The railroad was built on sand and the flaws in its construction can lead to exactly this type of crash. I hope that Tamanneftegaz learns its lesson from this accident and takes measures to ensure the safety of its railroad. In particular, it needs to ensure the safety of trains carrying dangerous goods; at present such a system does not exist. They are planning not only to transport crude oil, but even more dangerous goods. Temriuk region is a recreation and agricultural area and the gradual change into an industrial zone seriously increases the risks of a technogenic accident, causing great consternation among local residents.”

The Tamanneftegaz terminal for transport of oil and liquid hydrocarbons is one of the most dangerous transport sites on the Black Sea coast of Russia. Local residents and environmental organizations have protested against the project, but their opinion was ignored. The terminal and the railroad to it were built with serious violations of Russian legislation. Recently, Tamanneftegaz has been conducting a major PR campaign in an effort to convince residents and the public that their project is completely safe. This accident dispels this myth and demonstrates that the exploitation of the oil and gas terminal by Tamanneftegaz and the railroad that leads to it are nowhere near safe.

Andrey Rudomakha
Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus

For more information: (918)3510324, Vadim Novopashin

Translation by Crude Accountability

Translator’s Note: The Tamanneftegaz project received over $100 million in loans from the International Finance Corporation, the private lending arm of the World Bank. Local residents filed three complaints against the project with the World Bank’s Office of Compliance, Advisor/Ombudsman between 2007 and 2009. Tamanneftegaz repaid its loans to the IFC, and continues to expand its projects on Taman in spite of public outcry.