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metsfan

CN derailment takes one life, compromised tank cars still burning.

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ROCKFORD, Ill. – Tank cars loaded with thousands of gallons of highly flammable ethanol exploded in flames as a freight train derailed, killing one person and forcing evacuations of hundreds of nearby homes.

The cars continued burning Saturday morning and officials said they would wait for the "very dangerous" inferno to burn out by itself.

Rockford Fire Chief Derek Bergsten said 74 of the train's 114 cars were filled with ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, but only a dozen of them were burning.

Officials evacuated the area on the edge of Rockford, about 80 miles northwest of Chicago, Friday night amid concerns about air pollution and the chance that more of the train's cars might catch fire.

Winnebago County Coroner Sue Fiduccia said early Saturday the death was that of a female who was in a car waiting for the train to pass a crossing near the derailment site.

Bergsten said three other people ran from the car when it was bombarded with flying railroad ties and they were severely burned by flaming ethanol. They were taken to OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in serious to critical condition, and one was transferred to Stroger Hospital in Chicago, he said.

Two crewmen on the eastbound Canadian National train escaped injury, said company spokesman Patrick Waldron. The engine crew was able to pull 64 cars away from the scene.

The cause of the derailment was still under investigation Saturday but witnesses told the Rockford Register-Star that cars on the Chicago-bound train began hydroplaning in standing water as it approached the crossing. Some of them left the tracks moments before two of them exploded.

Parts of northern Illinois may have gotten up to 4 inches of rain Friday, said meteorologist Gino Izzi of the National Weather Service. Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, 40 to 50 miles east of Rockford, measured 3.6 inches, a record for the date, he said.

Kirk Wilson, a fire chief in nearby Rockton, said he expected the ethanol to continue burning until later Saturday.

"We're letting the product burn itself out," he said. "We can't get too close to it. We're observing everything through binoculars from about 200 or 300 feet away."

"The situation is not under control, but we are making progress in getting it under control," said Wilson, whose department was one of at least 26 that went to the derailment scene. "It's very dangerous. It's very explosive. We're not risking any firefighters' lives."

Officials evacuated residents of about 600 homes within a half-mile of the derailment, Bergsten said. He said potentially toxic fumes should keep them out of their homes until environmental officials give them the green light to return.

"At first I thought it was a tornado because they always say a tornado sounds like a train coming," said Jeff Tilley, a Register-Star employee who lives near the scene of the derailment.

Alicia Zatkowski, a spokeswoman for ComEd, said the derailment knocked out power to about 1,000 of the Chicago-based utility's Rockford-area customers.

The derailment was being investigated by Canadian National and the Federal Railroad Administration. Members of the National Transportation Safety Board were en route early Saturday.

 

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090620/ap_on_re_us/us_illinois_train_derailment

 

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They need to remove laws requiring common carriers to haul toxic/explosive product. :mad:

 

- A

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It's been a while since I've heard of a derailment in the freight dept. I really wonder what the true cause was?!

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Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 3_0 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/528.18 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile/7A341 Safari/528.16)

 

A car may have hit the train after the locomotives passed, sending the tank car off balance, but on the other hand those tankers weigh as much as the loco when full. It could have been an axle failure, frame failure, coupler issues, debris or washed out/uneven track. If the soil under the tracks was saturated it could have shifted, and a car could have run a crossing and the locos braked harder than usual and the rear half of the train wanted to keep going. They said the area was flooded, so that brings in a lot of variables.

 

- A

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Tracks with heavy amounts of rain on them are nerve racking for crew, I'm sure that what the witnesses saw was a cause along with probably a faulty axle or something along that line.

 

They need to remove laws requiring common carriers to haul toxic/explosive product.

 

And then there goes the railroad. Transporting hazmat related shipments ie:Ethanol other fuels and chemicals is what pays the bills.

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They need to remove laws requiring common carriers to haul toxic/explosive product. :mad:

 

- A

So you rather have it on tankers on the roads where the public is more at risk due to the higher rate of accidents on the road causing more problems?

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So you rather have it on tankers on the roads where the public is more at risk due to the higher rate of accidents on the road causing more problems?

 

Yeah really, have you seen some of the crazy SOBs out there... It's amazing that we let some of these morons operate two and a half ton projectiles.

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So you rather have it on tankers on the roads where the public is more at risk due to the higher rate of accidents on the road causing more problems?

 

Not use them at all.

 

- A

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Not use them at all.

 

- A

So what's your great plan on transporting the stuff? It must be done.

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My point is, remove the product from use, removing the need to transport it, or make tank cars more robust with baffles and compartments. If you gotta put and extra truck under them, so be it, but they need to be more robust if you're going to have tens of them in a single consist. If you can't do that, at least have failsafe fire suppression built in to cover the car in foam if excess heat is detected within ignition or flashover range.

 

Ethanol of the kind in those tank cars can't be piped, so they ship it in tanks. That is why it's more expensive. If they could develop pipe-compatible ethanol which is currently under development for mass production, you could use those tank cars for something else, like brine for geothermal/solar hot water systems.

 

You could also put other liquids in there, like water for emergency situations & pharma/food industries. Imagine sending a train of potable water to an area hard hit with some disaster, like new orleans...

 

I'm just saying, change the product carried, if you can't then make it safer to carry.

 

Brandon, i'm pretty sure there was a washout if the tracks are underwater the soil can easily shift, slide out of position or become less dense enough to move the track, or track stays in place with reduced underpinning strength.

 

In any case, very sad, hope it never happens again & cleanup is prompt & thorough.

 

- A

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