Friday Derailment Roundup

Derailment after derailment. They just keep happening.

Over the past several years, there have been numerous derailments in North America carrying crude from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale. These accidents have sparked increased calls from citizens, the rail industry and lawmakers for the federal government to increase safety regulations.

To keep up with these incidents and new safety regulations, PublicSource provides a roundup of stories every Friday.


Feed truck shifts track

A truck delivering feed for cattle in Kansas hit a train track on Monday, causing the track to shift about a foot just before an Amtrak train derailed in that same spot, injuring 32 people.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not say that the feed truck caused the derailment, only that the track had shifted the tracks 12 to 14 inches. The engineer said he noticed a significant bend in the rail before slamming the emergency brake.  


Heavy metal no match for wet dirt

A 52-car train carrying lumber and calcium carbonate — a non-hazardous rock substance — went off the rails in Okanogan County, Washington, on Monday.

According to emergency officials, the damp ground “liquefied” under the train’s wheels. No one was hurt.  


Surcharge remains on old crude-by-oil tankers

BNSF Railway Co., accused of trying to prematurely retire 28 percent of the nation’s rail tanker fleet, will not face legal charges from the refining industry, according to U.S. District Judge David Hittner.

Last year, the railway company imposed a $1,000 surcharge on older-model tank cars that haul crude oil, claiming that the cars were no longer safe and led to derailments. The nation’s largest association of refiners and petrochemical makers, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, lodged a complaint, claiming that BNSF was prematurely trying to retire old cars.

According to the association, the extra charge of $1.50 per barrel comes at a time when oil prices are low and money is tight. The judge threw out the complaint on Monday.


Cracked track to blame for weekend derailment

Officials determined on Monday that a 3-foot strip of broken track caused a derailment in Michigan the day before.

No one was injured when about 24 grain cars went off the track on Sunday in Howell Township. The train stayed upright, but took down several trees.

Reach PublicSource intern Elizabeth Lepro at elepro@publicsource.org and follow her on Twitter @LeproLiz.