Tag Archives: Rail tank cars

Told to fix leaky oil train cars in 2 months, owners sought 3 years

Repost from McClatchyDC
[Editor:  Significant quote: “This year is already the second worst for oil spilled from trains since the federal government began collecting data 40 years ago….trains spilled about 1 million gallons in 2013 alone, vs. 800,000 in all the prior years combined….More than 600,000 gallons of oil has spilled from trains so far this year….”  – RS]

Told to fix leaky oil train cars in 2 months, owners sought 3 years

By Curtis Tate and Samantha Wohlfeil, September 2, 2015 

• Washington state spills led to March order from federal agency
• Industry group asked for three-year extension
• Regulators gave owners until end of 2015

The wreckage of an oil train derailment in Mount Carbon, W.Va., still smolders 48 hours after the crash, on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015.

WASHINGTON  |  Railroad tank cars equipped with defective valves still will be allowed to transport crude oil and other hazardous materials through the end of the year, despite a March directive from federal regulators requiring their replacement within 60 days.

The Federal Railroad Administration order followed a Bellingham (Wash.) Herald story about a leaking oil train reported in Washington state in January. The Railway Supply Institute, trade group representing tank-car owners, wrote the agency in April asking for a three-year extension to replace the faulty valves on tank cars that carry hazardous materials.

About 6,000 tank cars were affected by the recall, issued on March 13. On May 12, the day of the original deadline, regulators wrote back to the trade group that the agency found no basis to give tank car owners until 2018 to comply, but nonetheless gave them until Dec. 31, an extension of more than six months.

Officials from the Railway Supply Institute couldn’t be reached to comment.

60   Number of days tank car owners had to comply
with March directive.

The federal order came about a month after crews discovered tank cars leaking from their top fittings while hauling crude oil through Washington state.

In mid-January, a 100-car train loaded with Bakken crude had 16 leaking cars removed at four different stops between northern Idaho and the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Wash.

As the train traveled west along the Columbia River, leaking cars were pulled as they were discovered; at each stop, the entire train was inspected before continuing on to the next location.

BNSF Railway, the train’s operator, said a total of 26 gallons of oil from 14 of the leaking cars was found only on the tops and sides of the cars, and no oil was found on the ground, in a report to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Separately, the Federal Railroad Administration fined the owner of a North Dakota oil loading terminal $10,000 for a spill from a tank car that was discovered in November in Washington state. When the car arrived at a refinery for unloading, inspectors found it coated in oil and measured about 1,600 gallons missing.

State officials first learned of the spill a month after it happened, and no local officials were notified. In March, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission recommended $700,000 in fines against BNSF for failure to report 14 hazardous materials spills within the 30 minutes required by state law.

BNSF has disputed the state regulator’s findings. A hearing is scheduled for January.

Six major oil train derailments this year across North America have demonstrated the continued risks of large volumes of crude oil moving by rail.

Four of those derailments occurred in just four weeks in February and March: two in Ontario, one in West Virginia and another in Illinois. All involved large spills, fires and explosions, but no serious injuries.

Two less serious oil train derailments have occurred since, in North Dakota in May and Montana in July.

600,000   Number of gallons of oil spilled from trains
so far this year.

The rail industry and its regulators have been under pressure from lawmakers and the public to fix tank car vulnerabilities and take more steps to prevent derailments from happening.

The U.S. Department of Transportation issued its final rule on tank car standards for trains carrying oil, ethanol and other flammable liquids on May 1.

The new rule requires a tougher design for the tank cars, including thicker shells, more puncture resistance and thermal insulation to protect against prolonged exposure to fire.

It also requires existing tank cars be retrofitted to meet the new standards, depending on the level of hazard, within two to 10 years. Industry groups have challenged the new rule in court, saying it doesn’t give them enough time to complete the retrofit. Environmental groups have sued as well, saying it gives the industry too much time.

This year is already the second worst for oil spilled from trains since the federal government began collecting data 40 years ago.  A McClatchy analysis of the data last year found that trains spilled about 1 million gallons in 2013 alone, vs. 800,000 in all the prior years combined.

More than 600,000 gallons of oil has spilled from trains so far this year, according to a new analysis of data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Wohlfeil writes for the Bellingham Herald and reported from Bellingham, Wash.

Fire and explosion with injuries at Atchison, Kansas rail yard

Repost from NewsPressNOW.com, St. Joseph, MO
[Editor: original news reports said that the tank car exploded.  Now officials are calling it a fire and “over-pressure” in the building.  Raw news video footage shows fire emerging at the top of a tank car, so it is clear that the tank car was involved.  KSHB Kansas City reported that the building is used to prepare railcar services for painting.  As of today, no one is reporting whether the tank car was a DOT-111, and no one has disclosed the nature of the burning fuel.   – RS]

Explosion near Atchison deemed accident

Two injured employees upgraded to fair condition
By Jeremy Lyons FOX 26 KNPN, December 12, 2014

An explosion at a railroad contracting company just south of Atchison, Kan., has been deemed an accident.

“The fire marshal’s office did do a complete investigation of the building and they have determined there is nothing criminal in the building,” Atchison County Sheriff Jack Laurie said. “So they have released the building back to GBW, and whether or not any other investigators will be coming in or not, we do not know that at this point.”

The explosion Thursday afternoon at GBW Rail Services, which sent nine employees to the hospital, proved not to be in a rail car, as previously reported by authorities.

The accident occurred inside of the building. However, the contents inside the rail car have not been ruled out as a contributing factor.

“The actual rail car itself did not explode. There was an explosion inside the building and I was corrected on ‘explosion’ as well, as it was an over-pressure is what they called it,” Mr. Laurie said. “The over-pressure meaning that the building expanded to some type.”

The sheriff couldn’t comment on exactly what over-pressurization was and the fire investigators could not be reached for comment.

Two men who were admitted to the University of Kansas Hospital in critical condition were upgraded to fair condition Friday, but their names have not been released.

“There’s a lot of debris, insulation, just a lot of materials inside there,” he said. “When walking out of that scene, it’s hard to believe that everybody actually did walk out of that area.”

All other employees inside the building at the time were accounted for. Most were treated and released.