Category Archives: Derailment

Canada limits speed of trains moving dangerous goods – details

Minister of Transport updates Ministerial Order to reduce the risks of derailment of trains transporting dangerous goods

OTTAWA, Feb. 16, 2020 /CNW/ – To protect Canadians who live along our rail corridors, it is critical that the movement of dangerous goods by rail is done in a safe way.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, announced specific measures through an amended Ministerial Order, to help prevent further derailment of trains carrying large quantities of dangerous goods, like petroleum crude oil, liquefied petroleum gas, gasoline and ethanol.Following the derailment of a key train on February 6th, 2020, in Guernsey Saskatchewan, a Ministerial Order was issued for the immediate slowdown of key trains. A key train is one carrying 20 or more cars containing dangerous goods; or a train carrying one or more cars of toxic inhalation gas.

Since then, Transport Canada officials have worked diligently with large railway companies to further assess the causes of recent derailments, and to develop plans to address the areas of greatest concern. As a result of this work, new measures are being implemented effective immediately to reduce the speed of the higher risk key trains traveling through areas of greatest concern.

Accordingly, the Ministerial Order has been updated to provide a more targeted risk-based approach.

Key trains

    • The speed limit for key trains is now limited to 35 mph in metropolitan areas. Outside of metropolitan areas where there are no track signals, the speed is limited to 40 mph.

New measures for high risk key trains.

Higher risk key trains are unit trains where tank cars are loaded with a single dangerous goods commodity moving to the same point of destination; or trains that include any combination of 80 or more tank cars containing dangerous goods.

    • The speed limit for higher risk key trains is now limited to 25 mph where there are no track signals. For metropolitan areas, the speed limit is 30 mph unless the metropolitan area is in a non-signal territory where the speed limit will be maintain at a maximum 25 mph.

 

Type of train

Speed limit of train in metropolitan areas

Speed limit of train in areas where there are track signals

Speed limit of train in areas where there are no track signals

Higher risk key trains

(unit trains where tank cars are loaded with a single dangerous goods commodity moving to the same point of destination; or trains that include any combination of 80 or more tank cars containing dangerous goods)

30 mph (and 25 mph for non-signaled territory).

50 mph

25 mph

Key trains

(Key trains include one or more tank cars of dangerous goods that are toxic by inhalation; or trains that include 20 or more tank cars containing dangerous goods)

35 mph

50 mph

40 mph

 

The new Ministerial Order will enter into effect immediately and will remain in place until April 1, 2020.

Transport Canada is working with the railways to develop a more comprehensive set of safety measures, which will include permanent measures. These will target track infrastructure maintenance and renewal, winter operations, safety practices of the railway companies, and any other actions necessary to keep Canadians safe.

Rail safety is the Minister of Transport’s top priority, and the Government of Canada is continuously looking for ways to make our railway system even safer for Canadians.

Quotes

“The safety of Canadians is a top priority for myself and the Government of Canada. The series of derailments like the one that occurred in Guernsey, Saskatchewan, and the impacts of these accidents are concerning. It is for this reason that I put immediate speed restrictions to reduce the risk of derailments until more permanent measures are put into place to address this situation. A safe and efficient railway system is critical to the well-being of our country and its citizens.”

The Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport

Quick Facts

    • A Ministerial Order is binding instrument that is put in place to address a safety issue.
    • Minister Garneau issued a Ministerial Order on February 6, 2020, that required key trains to slow down, as a precaution to prevent further derailment of trains transporting dangerous goods.

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    ‘Significant industry interest’ in oil tank cars involved in latest fiery CP train crash, TSB says

    These tank cars were touted as safer than those in the 2013 Lac-Mégantic rail disaster

    CBC News, by Guy Quenneville, Feb 14, 2020 12:15 PM CT

    ‘There is significant industry interest in documenting the performance of the DOT 117J100-W tank cars’ involved in the crash, the TSB says. (TSB)

    The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says it has not found any mechanical defects that could account for the derailment of a CP Rail oil train last week near the small Saskatchewan hamlet of Guerney — but it’s taking a close look at the tank cars involved in the incident.

    The TSB issued a preliminary report on the Feb. 6 crash on Friday morning. None of the findings are final.

    “A review of the locomotive event recorder download determined that the train was handled in accordance with regulatory and company requirements,” the TSB said in its preliminary update.

    The finding about a lack of mechanical defects referred only to the train and did not refer to the track, a TSB spokesperson confirmed.

    It also found that of the 32 tank cars that derailed, 19 were involved in the blaze that shut down the nearby highway and prompted the voluntary evacuation of about 85 people. It’s not clear how many, or if any, tanks lost their entire loads.

    Transport Canada has touted the newly-built cars involved in last week’s crash, dubbed TC-117s, as being safer than the tanks used in the explosive Lac-Mégantic rail disaster of 2013.

    Questions about ‘containment integrity and fire resistance’

    Last week’s derailment was the second to happen near Guernsey in less than two months. A CP oil train crashed on the other side of Guernsey on Dec. 9, 2019, with 19 of the 33 derailed tank cars losing their entire loads of oil.

    The tanks involved in that crash were retrofitted cars — TC-117Rs — which have a slightly less thick hull than the new TC-117s.

    CP does not own the tank cars but rather leases them from a provider.

    In its release about the most recent derailment, the TSB said there is “significant industry interest in documenting the performance of the [new TC-117] tank cars,” particularly in terms of “containment integrity and fire resistance.”

    Investigators also found that of the 32 tank cars that derailed, 19 were involved in the blaze that shut down the nearby highway and prompted the voluntary evacuation of about 85 people. (TSB)

    The fire from last week’s train crash burned for at least a day and a half.

    The eastbound train, which was carrying diluted bitumen owned by ConocoPhillips, had left Rosyth, Alberta, and was headed for Stroud, Oklahoma. It derailed about 2.4 km west of Guernsey.

    A Texas-based company called Trinity Rail previously confirmed to CBC News that it manufactured the tank cars involved in last Thursday’s crash and is “proactively monitoring the situation.”

    While the TSB said the amount of oil released remains undetermined, the Saskatchewan government has said an estimated 1.2 million litres of oil spilled, citing CP as its source. That’s just short of the amount spilled in the December derailment.

    Slower speed in 2nd crash

    According to the TSB, the train that derailed in December was travelling at about 75 kilometres an hour, which is the speed limit on that section of CP’s line.

    But last Thursday’s train was travelling more slowly, at around 67 kilometres an hour.

    Three TSB investigators are probing the causes of the crash.

    “Each tank car must be cleaned, purged, and staged prior to inspection,” the TSB said. “As of [Wednesday], about 17 of the derailed cars have been examined, with several cars exhibiting breaches.”

    The train was carrying a total of 104 tank cars.

    Sask. minister talks pipelines, rail safety

    The two derailments have prompted many people to advocate for more pipelines.

    In a news conference Friday about school bus safety and the blockades that have crippled Canada’s rail service, Saskatchewan’s minister of highways and infrastructure, Greg Ottenbreit, made a brief comment that touched on the topic of pipelines and railway safety.

    “Saskatchewan is a landlocked province but Saskatchewan is also a gateway to the world,” he said. “And I think a lot of my fellow ministers can connect with those comments. We will continue to advocate for an uninhibited tidewater access, also pipeline access, which will lead to rail safety and capacity.”

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      Oil train news – derailment and fire, speed limits in Canada, expanded production in North Dakota

      Three crude oil stories in today’s North American press:
      Site of December 2019 CP oil train accident site, with the derailment looking south. Transportation Safety Board of Canada / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

      Canadian Town Evacuated After Another Oil Train Derails and Burns

      From EcoWatch, by Justin Mikulka, DeSmog, Feb. 07, 2020

      Early in the morning of Feb. 6, an oil train derailed and caught fire near Guernsey, Saskatchewan, resulting in the Canadian village’s evacuation. This is the second oil train to derail and burn near Guernsey, following one in December that resulted in a fire and oil spill of 400,000 gallons…. [more, including drone footage]


      Canada to impose speed limits on trains carrying dangerous goods after crash

      Reuters, by David Ljunggren, Rod Nickel, February 6, 2020

      Oil train 2OTTAWA/WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Canada said on Thursday it would impose temporary speed limits on trains hauling dangerous goods after a Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd crude oil train derailed and caught fire.

      The accident, which happened in the early hours of Thursday near Guernsey, Saskatchewan, was the second derailment in the area in a span of two months.

      Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said that effective at midnight Friday (0500 GMT), trains hauling more than 20 cars of dangerous goods would be limited to 25 mph across the country for the next 30 days.

      The limit in urban areas will be 20 mph, he told reporters….  [more]


      Whiting proposes expansion of oil conditioning facility

      Bismarck Tribune, by Amy R. Sisk, February 7, 2020

      Oil rigs (copy) (copy)Whiting Oil and Gas plans to expand an oil conditioning facility in Mountrail County to accommodate climbing production. The expanded facility would handle up to 65,000 barrels per day of oil, a 20,000-barrel increase over its current capacity, according to an application Whiting filed with the PSC. The oil, once conditioned, would then be taken by pipeline to market.

      …Oil production statewide has climbed to 1.52 million barrels per day, 140,000 barrels higher than a year ago.

      …Oil typically undergoes a conditioning process as soon as it’s extracted from underground, said Katie Haarsager, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division. It’s often sent through a heater-treater, which separates the oil from natural gas and saltwater.

      The oil must be processed so that its vapor pressure level does not exceed 13.7 psi before it can be transported by pipeline, train or truck. North Dakota’s limit of 13.7 psi is based on a national standard for stable crude of 14.7 psi and builds in 1 psi as a margin of error. That limit has been the subject of controversy from environmentalists and rail safety advocates following fiery oil train derailments.  [more]

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        Derailment explosion – 3rd accident in North America involving upgraded DOT-117R tank cars

        Repost from DeSmog

        Ethanol Train Derails and Burns in Texas, Killing Horses and Spurring Evacuation

        By Justin Mikulka, April 25, 2019
        Fort Worth ethanol train fires
        Screen shot of emergency personnel watching an ethanol train burn near Fort Worth, Texas. Credit: Glen E. Ellman

        Early in the morning on April 24, an ethanol train derailed, exploded, and burned near Fort Worth, Texas, reportedly destroying a horse stable, killing three horses, and causing the evacuation of nearby homes. According to early reports, 20 tank cars left the tracks, with at least five rupturing and burning.

        While specific details have not yet been released, it appears to be a unit train of ethanol using the federally mandated DOT-117R tank cars, based on the images showing tank car markings. This is now the third accident in North America involving the upgraded DOT-117R tank cars, all resulting in major spills of either oil or ethanol.

        This latest fiery derailment highlights the dangers to the estimated 25 million people living within the blast zone along rail lines across North America. While this incident had no human fatalities, the oil train disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, in 2013 killed 47 people, devastating the small Canadian town. As I’ve exhaustively reported, the same risk factors for hauling oil by rail, and increasingly, ethanol, are still in place years after the Lac-Mégantic disaster.

        In Texas, first responders were quickly on the scene and able to contain the fire, preventing the situation from worsening. When ethanol rail tank cars are involved in fires, the unpunctured tanks can explode as the fire increases the temperature and pressure in the full tanks.

        For example, after a BNSF train derailed in Montana in August 2012, eight of the 14 cars carrying ethanol caught fire, resulting in an explosion and the signature “bomb train” mushroom cloud–shaped ball of fire.

        Video: Fort Worth ethanol train derailment. Credit: Glen E. Ellman

        Ethanol Industry Adopting Risky Oil Train Practices

        In 2016 DeSmog published a series of articles analyzing why oil trains were derailing at over twice the rate of ethanol trains. Likely contributing factors included the fact that the derailing oil trains were longer and heavier than ethanol trains.

        The oil industry was moving oil using “unit trains,” which are long trains dedicated to a single commodity, while the ethanol industry was using shorter trains. The majority of ethanol was shipped as part of manifest trains, carrying multiple types of cargo and not just ethanol.

        As part of the analysis, DeSmog found that derailing ethanol trains tended to be longer trains of 100 or more cars.

        However, longer trains are more profitable, and in 2016 the ethanol industry noted it intended to follow the lead of the oil industry and begin to move more ethanol via long unit trains. This announcement led to the following conclusion in the 2016 DeSmog series:

        “Based on the ethanol industry’s interest in using more unit trains for ‘efficiency,’ and the fact that it is allowed to transport ethanol in the unsafe DOT-111 tank cars until 2023, perhaps it won’t be long before ethanol trains are known as bomb trains too.”

        And while the DOT-111 tank cars are less robust than the DOT-117R tank cars, both have a history indicating neither are safe to move flammable liquids in unit trains. And DOT-117R tank cars are heavier than DOT-111s, adding another factor that increases chances for train derailment.

        Bomb Train Risks Continue to Grow

        After a string of oil trains filled with volatile crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale derailed and exploded in 2013 and 2014, there was a push for new safety regulations for trains carrying flammable materials including crude oil and ethanol.

        In 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation released new regulations, which, as DeSmog noted at the time, were a big win for the oil and rail industries and their lobbyists. While touted as increasing safety, these watered-down rules did not address the trains’ known risk factors or require the oil and rail industries to implement proven safety technologies. The one requirement in the new 2015 regulations that would have greatly improved safety mandated that railroads transition to modern braking systems. That requirement has since been repealed.

        The rail industry frequently calls the upgraded tank cars, which include DOT-117Rs and were required by federal regulators, a safety improvement. However, in the first two derailments involving the new cars, those purportedly safer tank cars led to major oil spills. One of those occurred in February in Manitoba, Canada, and now the Fort Worth derailment appears to represent a third example of these upgraded rail cars’ failed safety.

        In 2014 during rail safety discussions, the rail industry was recommending using much more robust tank cars — known as “pressure cars” — to move the volatile crude oil implicated in oil train explosions, but federal regulators did not incorporate the recommendation into the final rules. That is why oil and ethanol continue to be moved in rail cars that fail and lead to large leaks and fires during derailments.

        In Utah a train carrying propane in pressure cars recently derailed, highlighting the risk of even those more robust tank cars. That derailment caused a propane leak, and hazmat experts decided the safest thing to do was detonate the tank cars, a situation possible when in rural Utah. However, health experts were concerned about the impact on air quality for local residents.

        Despite the many examples of the risks of moving these flammable materials by rail, President Trump recently issued an executive order mandating federal regulators allow moving liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail as soon as next year.

        These risks are why a group of people were just arrested for blocking oil train tracks in Oregon. And why legislators in the state of Washington have passed legislation requiring oil be stabilized — to make it less volatile and likely to ignite — prior to its loading on rail tank cars for shipment. Several states also are looking at passing laws requiring two-person crews for freight trains to improve safety. One of the factors cited in the deadly Lac-Mégantic oil train disaster was that the train was operated by a single person.

        States are moving to address these very real, well-documented, and preventable risk factors because the U.S. federal government has fallen short in mitigating those risks to American communities from the oil and rail industries. These regulatory shortcomings, which began under President Obama’s administration, have only intensified under the Trump administration’s anti-regulatory approach. With the prospect of LNG trains in the near future — along with record amounts of oil trains coming from Canada to U.S. ports and refineries — the risks of “bomb train” accidents (the nickname bestowed by nervous rail operators) continue to grow.

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