Category Archives: Derailment

Train carrying crude oil and propane derails in western NY

East Aurora train contained flammable, explosive materials – Rail company refuses to divulge cargo

WKBW, 7 Eyewitness News, by Charlie Specht, May 22, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Since Monday’s train derailment in East Aurora sparked fears of “bomb trains” carrying toxic substances, the Genesee & Wyoming Railroad has sought to downplay the danger of the crash, stressing that no one was hurt and damage was limited.

But 7 Eyewitness News has learned that despite the company’s refusal to provide a complete accounting of the train’s contents, dozens of railcars that were pulled by the derailed engine were filled with flammable and explosive materials.

And since the railroad opened back up Thursday, even more cars carrying crude oil and propane have quietly rolled through.

“This was really a best-case scenario,” said East Aurora Fire Chief Roger LeBlanc said of Monday’s derailment. “It should have flopped onto Main Street. There should be a crater in the village.”

LeBlanc said the train conductor soon after the derailment approached him with a manifest of the cargo.

“He showed it to me,” LeBlanc said. “He didn’t give it to me. He had a death grip on that thing.”

7 Eyewitness News has learned that despite a railroad company’s refusal to provide a complete accounting of the train’s contents, dozens of railcars that were pulled by the derailed engine were filled with flammable and explosive materials.

The fire chief said the conductor told him the cargo included 19 propane tankers, between 8 to 10 tankers of crude oil — which has caused devastating explosions like the 2013 derailment in Quebec, Canada that killed 47 people — and at least one tanker of butane.

The conductor had “great concern” on his face when mentioning the propane, LeBlanc said.

“I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God, this thing’s gonna go,’” LeBlanc said, adding that thankfully, there were no explosions because the conductor said multiple cars behind the derailed engine were empty.

A railroad spokesman on Thursday said 66 railcars were empty, including 15 of the 17 derailed cars. But 32 railcars were “loaded with a variety of commodities,” according to Michael E. Williams, vice president of corporate communications for Genesee & Wyoming Railroad Services, which runs the Buffalo & Pittsburgh rail line.

Williams repeatedly declined to answer questions about the contents of the 32 cars, other than to say that two of the cars were carrying lumber.

“Railroads do not share train manifests with the general public for security reasons,” Williams wrote in an email. “The train was carrying what was properly tendered to the railroad to transport under its common-carrier obligation. It is safe for your viewers to assume that the loaded cars in the train were carrying commodities that are integral to modern life.”

Williams stated that the train’s manifest was provided “to the incident commander on site, per standard protocol,” but both LeBlanc and Police Chief Shane Krieger said they did not receive copies of the manifest.

First responders like LeBlanc and Krieger said they came away from the experience thankful that East Aurora, with many wood-frame buildings and 19th century historic structures, did not have to deal with a major explosion.

“If it would have hit any of the buildings or the restaurant, it could have been an ignition point,” LeBlanc said. “There’s a lot of things that could have happened.”

Williams stressed that railroads are “by far the safest means of ground freight transportation – much safer than trucks, which are the alternative.”

Still, the transport of flammable cargo appears to be occurring on a regular basis in East Aurora and other small towns lining the tracks from Salamanca to Buffalo.

Just after 11 p.m. Thursday — hours after Genesee & Wyoming announced the re-opening of the track — 7 Eyewitness News witnessed a string of train cars roll above Main Street through the village.

The tanker cars carried the red hazardous material placards for propane and crude oil.

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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SOURCE Transport Canada

‘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.”

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]