Repost from The Coloradoan
[Significant quote: “Trains that haul crude oil often move through the area, and it took some time for responders to confirm none of the approximately 100 cars on the Great Western Railway train were hauling materials that posed a chemical or explosive threat.” – RS]
Train derails in Timnath; first major incident since 2007Jason Pohl, May 15, 2016 6:33 p.m. MDT
The first significant Larimer County train derailment since 2007 could have been worse. Way worse.
Nine cars hauling sand used in hydraulic fracturing activities derailed Sunday morning in a residential area east of Fort Collins, drawing residents armed with cameras and capturing the attention of passersby young and old.
The derailment was first reported about 11:50 a.m. near Bethke Elementary School in Timnath. Crews from Poudre Fire Authority responded to the scene and located the mangled cars crunched on top of one another just a few hundred feet from homes, some under construction, in the Timnath Ranch subdivision.
PFA’s hazardous materials crews and medical personnel from Poudre Valley Hospital EMS responded as a precaution. Trains that haul crude oil often move through the area, and it took some time for responders to confirm none of the approximately 100 cars on the Great Western Railway train were hauling materials that posed a chemical or explosive threat.
The overturned cars were loaded with silica sand, commonly used in fracking activities, said Madeline Noblett, PFA spokeswoman.
Aside from the disfigured cars and twisted rails, the derailment did not damage any other property. Nobody was injured.
“This went as best as a train derailment could go,” Noblett said at the scene.
Larimer County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Timnath police initially ushered bystanders away from the scene. Within 30 minutes responders slung caution tape around the train cars, and residents flocked to the line, snapping photos in awe of the force that heaved the train cars atop one another and carved deep into the ground.
One neighbor reported hearing a series of loud bangs that lasted about five seconds — she quipped at the time that it sounded as if the train had fallen over.
Construction crews are in the process of building a road that will connect two neighborhoods across the tracks. The road will go right through where the derailment happened — the cars that derailed were in the middle of the train.
The cause of the derailment remains under investigation, said Ron Margulis, spokesman with Great Western Railway. It was not immediately clear Sunday night how long it would take to right the train cars and repair the tracks in the area.
Derailments, especially those involving multiple cars, are rare in Larimer County.
Most recently, in November one hopper car of a three-car train jumped the tracks near the intersection of Riverside and Lemay avenues. That incident didn’t cause any traffic issues, but crews had to use a crane to lift the car back onto the tracks.
Prior to that, the last time a train ran off the tracks in Larimer County was Dec. 16, 2007, when a locomotive and 11 cars operated by Great Western crashed near Johnstown, just inside of county jurisdiction, according to records maintained by the Federal Railroad Administration.
Larimer County has seen 27 derailments since 1975. Weld County has seen at least 72, data show.
That includes a series of mishaps in Windsor in 2006. Four Great Western trains derailed during a nine-month span, but no injuries were reported, according to Coloradoan archives. Another incident happened a year later when a Great Western train carrying corn derailed in a similar section on the east side of town near Universal Forest Products.
At least one of the incidents was blamed on snow and ice, and the others were apparently due to issues with the rail.