Friday, April 26, 2019

Tank Car Safety: UP derailed an ethanol train in south Fort Worth

(3D Satellite, the stable that burned is across the tracks from the abandoned incinerator)

I've been writing about incidents that "stress" tank cars. But I think this derailment is significant enough to warrant its own post.

A UP southbound ethanol train derailed at 12:40am, 4/24/2019. Five of the 20 cars burned for hours. A stable next to the tracks caught fire and three out of the 10 horses were killed. [NBC's video] The ties and stable were still smoldering when it got light enough for a helicopter to make a video for news channels.
Mike Barkett shared a link to the group: IF YOU WORK(ED) ON THE RAILROAD (railfans welcome).
Kameron Joseph It was a 98 car train. Crew didn’t receive a flash flood [warning] and hit a washout.
FORT WORTH, Texas — At least 20 homes were evacuated after a train derailment near Yuma Drive and Riverside in south Fort Worth Wednesday morning.
Small fires are still smoldering at a nearby family farm whose horse stable also caught fire, killing three horses. [KHOU11]
They were worried about "chemicals" in the air. That is why the homes were evacuated.

Photo 12 from a 15 photo gallery in KHOU11
"Firefighters said they are working to contain the fire as Union Pacific will investigate the cause of the fire." [KHOU11] I think it is pretty obvious what caused the fire --- they smashed some tank cars full of ethanol. It would be interesting to know what generation of safety design the tank cars were and if they performed as expected.

(new window)  At 2:10, they zoom in on a little jet of flame. But according to the report below, this video is seven hours after the main fire.

The video in this report shows that the fire right after the wreck was big. UP was lucky that it derailed in a more industrial part of Fort Worth.
There was a lot of rain because this video said the cars in the lower level of the parking garage of Love Field (their airport) were in 3 feet of water. (I skipped the "talking faces" part.)

Screenshot, evauated area

ABC7 Screenshot
I captured the above because of the strong current past the wheelsets. Then when I stopped the video a few seconds later I got the following. Those are two rails down in the drainage ditch! Then I noticed all of the ties on the side of the embankment. Rails and ties are supposed to be on top of an embankment, not next to it. It appears UP was also lucky that the locomotives and crew got across this area before the embankment caved in.

Screenshot @ -30:58
Soon after you see that all of the smoke is coming from burning ties and an excavator is using its bucket to pour water from the drainage ditch onto the smoldering ties.

Screenshot @ -25:35
[Look at the hole on the right side of the top tank. Did it explode or was it ripped open on impact?]

Screenshot @ -24:20
[We go from an embankment to a cut and the tracks are in a river of water. When is BNSF and UP going to quit testing the soil strength of a saturated embankment?]
Screenshot @ -18:33
[A view that has the "big hole", the ties on the side, the rails in the ditch, and the jet of flame.]
The rest of the video is rather redundant unless you want to see a horse in the field at -11:10 and the smoldering stable. This was the stable.

Screenshot @ -32:40
[It looks like Fox caught ethanol pouring out of a puncture. There might be some drunk fish in the neighborhood. This video was taken before the above video because there are more trucks and wheelsets in the water. Actually, at -30:13, it looks like the above video. The news channels contract with the same helicopter for their footage? I moved the slider several times and the rest of the video looks the same.]
KENS5 video looks a little different, but it is very similar. It might have been a second cameraman in the same helicopter flight.

This is what the Chicago Tribune had about it on 4/25/2019 in their News Summary section. But KHOU11 reports this command vehicle caught fire when it came in contact with overhead wires. It had nothing to do with the train derailment fire.
A Fort Worth Fire Department emergency vehicle burns at the scene where a train of tanker cars carrying ethanol derailed and caught fire in a residential area of the city early Wednesday. Authorities said no one was injured in the accident. (Fort Worth Fire Department )
[Bought in 2008, it cost $1.25 million, the department said. [NBC5]]
(new window)

HazmatNation has even less information than the mainstream media had.

I was going to skip this news article because the advertisements kept fighting me, but it has the information that the train had a mix of the old DOT-111 and new DOT-117 tank cars. It also has updated numbers: "Of the 24 tanker cars, nine leaked at least some of their ethanol cargo, including the four cars that witnesses saw burn up in the fire, officials said." "Jim Southworth, NTSB investigator in charge, said Thursday he was not aware of any ethanol making its way into any nearby creeks or other waterways, including Echo Lake, a small body of water adjacent to the derailment site." I guess nobody showed him the video above where I speculated about drunk fish in Sycamore Creek. The drone video shows that they brought in at least two mobile cranes and a photo shows a couple of sidebooms in action.

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