Thursday, July 4, 2019

CN/GTW Derailment in St. Clair Tunnel

For the location of the tunnel, either of my duplicate set of notes, 2017 or 2019, will provide basic information such as location.

Early on June 28, 2019, CN derailed 40 cars in their tunnel under the St. Clair River, tore up a lot of track, and one car leaked roughly 53,000 litres of sulfuric acid. The tunnel under the Detroit River had concrete removed in the mid 1990s so that it can clear double stacks of international containers, which are 8.5' high. But only this tunnel can clear domestic containers, which are 9.5' high. About six freight trains a day will be rerouted through the Detroit Tunnel using Via's Chatham subdivision.  The freight traffic on the Via route is expected to run until July 6. The sulfuric acid spill is expected to be cleaned up by July 8. The tunnel itself is structurally sound. [CrainsDetroit, CBC]
They started the cleanup by taking a boom off a sidewinder and pulling out the cars that were still on good track.
One of five photos posted by James Freed
[James Freed is the Port Huron City Manager. [CrainsDetroit]]
Then they tore out the track and used five tracked vehicles to drag the cars out. The vehicle next to the freight car is an excavator so at least that end of the car has its axles lifted out of the ballast.
Seventh of fourteen photos posted by Leo Houston
[Since the old tunnel is on the left, this is the Canadian side.]
The freight cars, and their contents, are then scrapped in place by a couple of excavators with metal shear attachments.
Eighth of fourteen photos posted by Leo Houston
Even if a van was in good condition, it is crunched down so that several can be loaded onto an off-road dump truck. To avoid the employment of lawyers later (i.e. lawsuits), any product in a wreck is scrapped even if it looks good. Since it is going to be scrapped anyhow, the excavator operators don't have to worry about damaging the product.
Thirteenth of fourteen photos posted by Leo Houston

Paul Morden/TheObserver
The dump trucks haul the scrap to...
Fifth of fourteen photos posted by Leo Houston
...a local railroad yard where the Sarnia fire crews then have to fight fires.
Though crews are crushing these vehicles to remove them from rail cars more easily, Sarnia fire platoon chief Bill Sheane said that each vehicle contains approximately five gallons of fuel, as well as an intact battery.
"As they're unloading them into the staging area, they catch fire," said Sheane.
Brad Jones commented on the last photo posted by Leo Houston

Roy Badgerrow posted
Rob A Richards whoever took this photo is probably in trouble.
Linda Dombrowski I was thinking the same thing Rob.
Sheila Green-Dickinson Anyone no how it happened.
Peggy Wilcox They aren't saying.
Roy Badgerow Sheila Green-Dickinson 12 to 18 months before we know why.
Doug Decker It happened because the guy who was in charge of loading the cars loaded them in the incorrect order, causing a flatbed car right behind the engine to fork and send all the rest behind it off the tracks. I heard oh... nevermind... we're not supposed to talk about that part.
Roy Badgerow posted
Bill Heinen getting the mid-train locomotive out will be a heavy lift !

William Brown posted
Roy Badgerow posted this photo of the CN Derailment in the Windsor Tunnel.
William Brown (countware)
July 5, 2019: "CN rail crews are reportedly removing the last train car derailed a week ago in the international tunnel between Port Huron and Canada." The derailment was on the Sarnia, Ontario, side so NTSB will have a support role for Canada's investigation.

A video of the cleanup operation

A video of a bunch of dozers pulling an autorack car out of the tunnel I didn't have the patience needed to count the number of dozers that were pulling. Actually, the dozers were sidebooms with the booms removed because they left the counterweights on.
Pete Relich That excavator will be junk after. Those final drives will be about toasted.
Tim Twichell We did use it for steering and helping to keep some weight off the drawbar, but when the big tracked derrick came over from Manitoba, that took its place. No other way but brute power to pull those cars out. Not much room in a tunnel like that one. The removal of the locomotive was a real task....210 ton SD-70M six axle pulled nearly 3,000 feet in granite ballast with concrete ties jammed up under it...

The tunnel was built with containment cisterns, and they did contain the sulfuric acid leak. As of July 1, they still had not determined if the derailment occurred on the American or Canadian side of the boarder. "The Transportation Safety Board of Canada and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board each sent investigators. The location of the point of the derailment would determine which would become the lead agency for the accident investigation." They are pulling cars out from both sides. It has been going slowly on the American side because they have to do more spraying to neutralize the acid and because one car took a long time, but they are averaging one car every four hours on the Canadian side. [TheObserver]

As of Noon, July 3, "CN crews have removed more than half of the derailed cars from the tunnel as environmental and dangerous goods experts continue to pump and neutralize the spilled sulfuric acid. The product remains contained to the tunnel and adjacent tanks and test have confirmed that it does not pose any risk to public safety, the environment or drinking water sources." [CN message to James Freeed]

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