Tag Archives: Plaster Rock NB

New Brunswick derailment: some tank cars fared better than others

Repost from McClatchy DC News

Tank car upgrades effective in derailments, Canadian report shows

By Curtis Tate, McClatchy Washington Bureau, June 19, 2015

Tank car improvements required by the U.S. and Canadian governments last month should cut the risk of spills and fires in oil train accidents, Canadian investigators have concluded.

The finding came from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s investigation of on a derailment in January 2014 in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick.

While the report pinpointed a broken wheel as the cause, the derailment provided a rare side-by-side comparison of the performance of two different types of tank cars in use for decades on the North American rail system.

A type of tank car called the DOT-112 survived the Plaster Rock derailment with no impact damage, according to the report, released Friday. Four such cars carrying butane derailed.

In contrast, two DOT-111 cars carrying crude oil sustained punctures, spilling more than 60,000 gallons. The spilled oil caught fire.

The DOT-112 cars have features very similar to the new DOT-117 standard unveiled by regulators on May 1. Both include half-inch thick shields that fully protect both ends of the car, thicker 9/16-inch shells and thermal insulation around the tank shell enclosed with an additional layer of steel.

Typically, the DOT-111 cars have 7/16-inch shells and none of the other protections.

As McClatchy reported last year, the DOT-112 was beefed up after a series of catastrophic tank car explosions in the 1970s that killed railroad workers and firefighters and caused extensive property damage. After the 112 was upgraded, the accidents subsided.

But the DOT-111 fleet remained unchanged, even when railroads began hauling larger quantities of ethanol a decade ago, followed by crude oil five years ago.

The Canadian report lists 13 other rail accidents involving crude oil or ethanol since 2005 that illustrate the vulnerabilities of the DOT-111. Three of those derailments took place this year, including two in Ontario and one in West Virginia.

The list also includes the 2013 disaster in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, which resulted in 47 fatalities. The families of the victims and their attorneys earlier this month unanimously ratified a proposed $350 million settlement package.

The U.S. Department of Transportation last month required that new tank cars carrying crude oil and ethanol meet the DOT-117 standard beginning in October. Tank car owners, which are typically railcar manufacturers, financial firms and energy companies, must comply with a series of retrofit deadlines for DOT-111 cars that are spread out over a decade.

The oil industry says the timeline is too short, while environmentalists say it’s too long. Both have since taken the department to court.

Oil Train Explosions: A Timeline in Pictures

Repost from Sightline
[Editor:  An excellent summary that promises to be kept current.  This will replace the now outdated Bomb Trains facebook page.  Bookmark it!  (I hope someone will offer to edit this adding a few salient facts about each derailment/explosion.)  – RS]

Oil Train Explosions: A Timeline in Pictures

Ten explosions in two years, and no end in sight.
By Eric de Place and Keiko Budech, May 6, 2015 10:51 am

At 7:15 this morning, yet another crude oil train erupted into an inferno, this time near a small town in central North Dakota.  As these wildly dangerous trains continue to explode—at least 10 in the last two years—it’s become challenging to keep track of them all. So, for the record, we’ve assembled here a pictorial timeline of North America’s bomb trains.

Last week, the Obama administration adopted new regulations that will phase out many of the most hazardous tank cars over the next five to six years. The regulations also substantially reduce public oversight of train movements and industry behavior.

We will update this post as new explosions occur.

Heimdal, North Dakota: May 6, 2015

Heimdal ND 2015-05-06
Train derailment and tanker fire by Heimdal, ND, 2015-05-06. Pic courtesy of Jennifer Willis.

Gogama, Ontario: March 7, 2015


Galena, Illinois: March 6, 2015


Mount Carbon, West Virginia: February 16, 2015

20150217_Crude Oil train Derailment_0090_1_2

Timmins, Ontario: February 14, 2015

Timmins, ONT, derailment

Lynchburg, Virginia: April 30, 2014

James River, oil train derailment,oil trains

Plaster Rock, New Brunswick: January 8, 2014


Casselton, North Dakota: December 30, 2013

North Dakota Oil Train Derailment

Aliceville, Alabama: November 8, 2013

Oil train derailment and river contamination, Aliceville, AL (2). Photo by John L. Wathen, used with permission.

 Lac-Mégantic, Quebec: July 6, 2013

Train derailment

Texas Public Radio: Derailments Spike Along With Oil Shipments

Repost from Texas Public Radio
[Editor: This seems to be an early posting on Texas Public Radio, with actual interview audio to follow.  I will return to add the audio when it is posted.  – RS]

The Source: Derailments Spike Along With Oil Shipments

By Paul Flahive, July 1, 2014
Link to original image: http://bit.ly/1lvK3ci Credit Flickr user Paul Sullivan / cc

Transporting crude oil from areas booming with the hydraulic fracturing revolution relies heavily on railroads. Busier railroads means more derailments and more derailments with trains loaded with old cars filled with oil means more tragedies.

Chris Hart, acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, noted the dramatic rise in flammables being transported by rail the in a letter to U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley while noting a number of specific oil derailments:

  • March 27, 2013, derailment of a Canadian Pacific train involving 14 tank cars of Western Canadian crude oil in Parkers Prairie, Minnesota, that released 15,000 gallons of product.
  • January 31, 2014, 11 tank cars of a Canadian National (CN) train transporting North Alberta crude oil in New Augusta, Mississippi, derailed, releasing 50,000 gallons of product.
  • February 13, 2014, 19 tank 2 cars of a Norfolk Southern train carrying Western Canadian heavy crude oil derailed in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, releasing 4,300 gallons of product.
  • January 7, 2014, 5 tank cars of a CN train carrying Western Canadian (Manitoba/Saskatchewan) crude oil derailed in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, releasing 60,000 gallons of product.

As we enter July, the property damage by oil on rail derailments has already surpassed all of last year and these derailments have affected every region of the country according to a Politico investigation.

As these trains travel through our communities, sometimes without the knowledge of first responders, are we safe? Should we have more information and the ability to keep these trains outside densely populated areas? Are there alternatives, and how does the Keystone XL pipeline figure in?


  • Kathryne Wolfe, Politico’s deputy transportation editor
  • Tom “Smitty” Smith, Texas director of Public Citizen, a consumer and citizen advocacy group

*This is the second segment in the July 1 edition of The Source, which airs at 3 p.m. on KSTX 89.1 FM.  Audio from this segment will be posted by 5:30 p.m.