Update on Galena IL oil train – 21 cars involved, which were the supposedly safer CP1232 design

Yesterday, a BNSF trail carrying 103 crude oil cars derailed on tracks bordering the Mississippi River in a remote part of Illinois near Galena.  Today there’s some further information which clears up some unknowns about the incident.  It’s now known the fire was more extensive than thought yesterday, involving more cars and where yesterday it was thought only five cars had derailed its now known that 21 did so.

KWQC – the local TV station – 21 rail cars derailed, with BNSF saying two of them are still burning but Galena Fire says five are burning.  It’s difficult to be sure how many are burning because of burning oil pooled under the cars.  There’s a plan to relight some of the oil to get it to burn off.  It’s believed that none of the oil has gotten into the Mississippi River, despite the accident occurring on the river bank, but they’ve deployed Boom just in case.

The oil’s source was the Bakken field, but BNSF isn’t saying what the destination was.

They did say the rail cars were not the DOT-111 that everyone is up in arms about, but “unjacketed CPC 1232 cars with a half height shield.”  The CPC1232 cars are supposed to be safer, but it’s now two accidents in a row (The West Virginia derailment last week also had CPC1232 cars) using these same cars.
The reports would be working from this statement:

BNSF MEDIA STATEMENT as of March 6, 2015 at 9:00 am CST – Galena, IL derailment
A BNSF Railway train originating from North Dakota derailed on BNSF’s mainline track at approximately 1:15 pm CST on March 5, 2015 in a rural area south of Galena, IL. There are no injuries reported. The train consists of 105 loaded cars, which includes 103 cars loaded with crude oil and 2 buffer cars loaded with sand. A total of 21 cars derailed. An initial pool fire occurred that we believe impacted 5 rail cars and that fire continues to burn. Local, state and BNSF Railway emergency personnel are on the scene working to contain the incident. BNSF personnel arrived soon after the event occurred to be part of the response.

Protection of the communities we serve, the safety of our employees and protection of the environment are our highest priorities. We are guided by these priorities as we respond to this situation. We continue to be unaware of any injuries. Local officials have announced a voluntary evacuation of an area that is within one mile of the incident. We are grateful for the efforts of the first responders at this incident and sincerely regret the inconvenience this event has caused to the community.

The cause of the derailment is still under investigation. We are still in the early stages of this effort and will continue working closely with the Federal Railroad Administration as to the cause. All tank cars involved in the incident were the unjacketed CPC-1232 model with half-height head shields.

BNSF has established a claims center at the Country Inn in Galena, IL (11334 Oldenburg Ln) to help and assist local residents who may have incurred damage to their property or are in need of temporary relocation. Residents may also call 309-335-2968 for information or assistance. BNSF continues to take precautionary measures to protect the waterways in the area and continues to conduct air quality monitoring. BNSF will address any environmental impacts.

As we are able to share more information, we will issue additional statements.

The Winona Daily News reports that both BNSF and Canadian Pacific Railroads are working on expanding rail capacity.  Both companies are hiring new workers and are building new rail lines to relieve bottlenecks in the rail network.  In Winona that includes adding new track (filling in some marsh to do so) to eliminate a section that’s only a single track.

The railroads don’t explicitly say why, but shipping volume is up, and of course crude oil shipments by rail are way up.

There’s concern about why the railroads don’t have to file an environmental impact report.  If a pipeline were to be built, that would be a requirement.  These oil trains are essentially pipelines on wheels, and there should be an environmental impact report.

The report estimates their region is seeing 420,000 barrels of oil per day pass by on trains.

Last month, train safety regulators in Canada said that a derailment in Canada at that time demonstrated the newer supposedly safer rail car designs didn’t go far enough. The CP1232 design came about after the Lac-Mégantic, Que oil train derailment that essentially destroyed that town and killed over 40 people.

The CSX derailment near Timmons Ontario, the Carbon Mtn WV derailment last week, and the Galena Illinois derailment yesterday, all involved CP1232 rail cars. In all three cases they blew up and burned.

“The initial impression is that [the newer tank cars] are probably not good enough and more needs to be done to find a better class of tank cars to transport these types of products in,” said Rob Johnston, the safety board’s manager for the central regional operations. And, “This is a North American problem, this is not just a Canadian problem,” he said. “And if we’re going to fix it, it needs to be fixed in North America.”
The Quad City Times has an extensive report.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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  1. Pingback: FRA announcing technological fixes to oil train safety won’t solve the real problem of oil dependency | The Long Tail Pipe

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