Runaway train ends in explosion, at least 13 killed

A tragic runaway train accident in Canada this month has brought back memories of the June 2009 freight-train derailment that occured in Cherry Valley.  That’s because, like the Cherry Valley accident, this recent train accient not only claimed the lives of least 13 people but damages could have been reduced had the train operators used safer, more durable transportation containers.

According to reports, the train was carrying 70 carloads of crude oil from North Dakota to a refinery in New Brunswick when the crash took place.  It’s not clear what caused the train to derail but the ensuing crash caused the train to burst into flames, killing 13 and displacing nearly 2,000 more people.  As investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board explain, the accident could have been different had the oil been transported in different containers.

In the 2009 Illinois train crash, investigators from the NTSB determined that the particular type of train car used to transport oil across the nation, the DOT-111, is not able to withstand the forces exerted in such accidents.  Other containers, which have protected fittings and thicker shells to prevent pressurized cargo from exploding, would be better suited for the shipment of oil.  Because many of the DOT-111 containers involved in the accident ruptured, some investigators say that this is further proof that changes need to be made to regulations across North America.

But according to the NTSB, this inferior container makes up about 69 percent of the fleet.  And despite the NTSB’s warnings, regulators in both the U.S. and Canada have been hesitant to make any changes because of costs.  But as many people here in Illinois would point out, if making a change to safety regulations could save even one person’s life then the change is a necessary one.

Source: The Bloomberg, “Tanker Cars in Fatal Quebec Rail Crash Had Drawn Scrutiny,” Jim Efstathiou Jr. & Jim Snyder, July 9, 2013