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Transport Canada’s mandatory slow order applies to all trains carrying 20 or more crude oil tank cars and persists for 30 days. The order followed by a few hours the derailment of a Canadian Pacific oil train, less than two months after a similar derailment and explosive fire in the same area. CP, for its part, announced it had already slow-ordered all of its oil trains immediately after the Feb. 6 incident “as a precautionary measure as it gathers facts related to this incident.”
“Until we better understand the facts relating to today’s incident, it is prudent to operate with an abundance of caution,” said CP CEO Keith Creel. There were no injuries to the crew; CP said there is no impact to waterways. About 85 nearby residents were evacuated due to air quality concerns.
Toronto Star photo
Extreme cold weather is a prime suspect. It is well understood that brake line connections leak when rubber hoses and seals freeze and metal fittings shrink. Rails contract under stress and become brittle.
The Transport Canada slow order will frustrate the province of Alberta’s campaign to increase the flow of crude oil by rail to U.S. destinations. Alberta bitumen is a thick tar that is diluted by up to one-third with naptha or other low-value petroleum gases to make it liquid enough to load into tank cars. It is such diluent that makes the bitumen shipments explosive.*
A spokesman for the FRA said the agency is examining all of the circumstances of the Feb. 6 incident: “FRA is in the process of gathering information from Canadian investigators about the circumstances of today’s CP derailment. We are actively engaged with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, Transport Canada and CP to obtain relevant information and data on all potential contributing factors. Once we have had the opportunity to evaluate that information and data, FRA will determine if additional safety measures or precautions for the movement of such shipments are needed.”
cars themselves do not explode. If ruptured/breached/punctured in a derailment,
the crude oil in the car spills out. The oil, if diluted with volatile
materials like naptha, can explode if ignited. Metal-to-metal contact, such as
what occurs in a derailment with a rupture, creates sparks that can be the
The post Transport Canada Slow-Orders Crude Oil Trains appeared first on Railway Age.
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