Category Archives: Derailment

Train derailment: 230,000 gallons of crude oil released into Iowa floodwaters

Repost from the Des Moines Register

230,000 gallons of crude released into floodwaters after train derailment, railroad says

Associated Press, 4:59 p.m. CT June 23, 2018


DOON, Iowa — A railroad official says 14 of 32 derailed oil tanker cars in the northwest corner of Iowa dumped an estimated 230,000 gallons of crude oil into floodwaters, with some making its way to nearby rivers.

BNSF spokesman Andy Williams confirmed the details Saturday. He said that nearly half the spill had been contained with booms near the derailment site and an additional boom placed approximately 5 miles downstream. Williams had earlier said that 33 oil cars derailed.

Williams said that oil will be removed from that containment site with equipment to separate the oil from the water.

The railroad will focus on environmental recovery. Williams said “ongoing monitoring is occurring for any potential conditions that could impact workers and the community and, so far, have found no levels of concern.”

The train derailed early Friday just south of Doon in Lyon County, leaking oil into surrounding floodwaters from the swollen Little Rock River.

Crews work to clean up cars from the BNSF railway afterSome officials have speculated that floodwaters eroded soil beneath the train track. The nearby Little Rock River rose rapidly after heavy rain Wednesday and Thursday.

Within hours of the derailment, BNSF had brought in dozens of semitrailers loaded with equipment to clean up the spill, including containment booms, skimmers and vacuum trucks.

“We are working as quickly as we can to get this cleaned up,” Williams said Saturday. “We’ve had skimmers working since yesterday on the floodwater south of the site.”

A major part of that work includes building a temporary road parallel to the tracks to allow in cranes that can remove the derailed and partially-submerged oil cars. Williams said officials hoped to reach the cars by sometime Saturday afternoon.

The train was carrying tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to Stroud, Oklahoma, for ConocoPhillips. ConocoPhillips spokesman Daren Beaudo said each tanker can hold more than 25,000 gallons of oil.

Beaudo also did not know whether the derailed oil cars were the safer, newer tankers intended to help prevent leaks in the event of an accident.

“We lease those cars and are in the process of verifying with the owners the exact rail car specifications,” Beaudo said in an email.

Gov. Kim Reynolds was set to visit the derailment site Saturday afternoon as part of a tour of areas hit by recent flooding.

The derailment also caused concern downstream, including as far south as Omaha, Nebraska, about 150 miles from the derailment site. The spill reached the Rock River, which joins the Big Sioux River before merging into the Missouri River at Sioux City.

Omaha’s public water utility — Metropolitan Utilities District — said it was monitoring pumps it uses to pull drinking water from the Missouri River.

Rock Valley, just southwest of the derailment, shut off its water wells within hours of the accident. It plans to drain and clean its wells and use a rural water system until testing shows its water is safe.

    LPG Tank Cars derail in Martinez – could have been a catastrophic event

    Derailment in Martinez: the nightmare no one wants

    By Roger Straw, The Benicia Independent – 05/01/2018
    LPG tank car derailment Martinez 2018-05-01 (KTVU Fox 2 News)

    Early this morning, at least two tank cars carrying liquid petroleum gas (LPG) derailed while backing into the Shell Refinery in Martinez, CA.  (See brief KTVU News coverage.)

    Thank our lucky stars that those tank cars backing into the refinery did not tip over or leak!  Had they done so, and a spark ignited a fire, the accident might’ve resulted in a Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion, or “BLEVE” (blɛviː/ BLEV-ee).

    Sharon Kelly described a BLEVE this way on DeSmogBlog: “As liquids in a metal tank boil, gasses build up, pressurizing the tank even despite relief valves designed to vent fumes. Tanks finally explode, throwing shrapnel great distances, and spitting out burning liquids that can start secondary blazes.”

    BLEVEs were responsible  for the massive degree of destruction and loss of life in Lac Magantic, Canada.  If those Martinez tank cars had caught fire and erupted, the whole Shell Refinery might’ve blown up!  Downtown Martinez, the AMTRAK station, and the 680 freeway might’ve been threatened.

    LPG tank car derailment Martinez 2018-05-01 (KTVU News)

    Photos of the derailed cars show the 4-digit Hazardous Material Identification Placard: 1075.  The Emergency Response Guidebook, published by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration identifies the code for 1075 on p. 31 as one of the following flammable materials:

    Butane, Butylene Isobutane, Isobutylene, Liquefied petroleum gas, LPG, Petroleum gases, liquefied Propane Propylene.

    This is EXTREMELY dangerous.  On p. 170 of the Emergency Response Guidebook, emergency responders are cautioned:

    In fires involving Liquefied Petroleum Gases (LPG) (UN1075); Butane, (UN1011); Butylene, (UN1012); Isobutylene, (UN1055); Propylene, (UN1077); Isobutane, (UN1969); and Propane, (UN1978), also refer to BLEVE – SAFETY PRECAUTIONS (Page 368).

    BLEVE is defined : “A boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE, /ˈblɛviː/ BLEV-ee) is an explosion caused by the rupture of a vessel containing a pressurized liquid that has reached temperatures above its boiling point.”

    Page 368-369 of the Emergency Response Guidebook reads as follows:

    BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion)
    The following section presents, in a two-page format, background information on BLEVEs and includes a chart that provides important safety-related information to consider when confronted with this type of situation involving Liquefied Petroleum Gases (LPG), UN1075. LPGs include the following flammable gases: Butane, UN1011; Butylene, UN1012; Isobutylene, UN1055; Propylene, UN1077; Isobutane, UN1969; and Propane, UN1978.

    What are the main hazards from a BLEVE?
    The main hazards from a propane or LPG BLEVE are:
    – fire
    – thermal radiation from the fire
    – blast
    – projectiles
    The danger from these decreases as you move away from the BLEVE centre. The furthest reaching hazard is projectiles.

      Train tank cars carrying LPG derail near Shell refinery in Martinez

      Repost from KTVU.com Fox News 2, Oakland, CA
      [Editor: This derailment of tank cars carrying Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) could have resulted in extreme hazardous consequences.  See my analysis here. – RS]

      Freight train derails near Shell refinery in Martinez


      [Editor: apologies for the advertisement at start of this video… – RS]

      By: Leigh Martinez, MAY 01 2018 05:22AM PDT, VIDEO POSTED: MAY 01 2018 05:13AM PDT, UPDATED: MAY 01 2018 06:55AM PDT

      MARTINEZ, Calif. – A freight train derailed in Martinez early Tuesday causing two tankers to lean off the tracks.  It is believed the train was backing into the Shell refinery when it went off the tracks at Shell and Marina Vista avenues.

      Two cars have their wheels off the tracks and were leaning into other rail lines.

      This was not a hazmat situation because there is no sign of leakage and no injuries were reported.

      The rail line runs next to Amtrak and Union Pacific lines. There was no immediate word if those commuter trains are affected.