MARYVILLE, Tenn. — A fire continued to burn Thursday afternoon at the site where a train car carrying hazardous material derailed and caught fire in eastern Tennessee, and officials said firefighters have been trying to keep neighboring rail cars cool as they make efforts to move them away from the flames.

At a 4:30 p.m. news conference Thursday in Maryville, Tennessee, Craig Camuso, CSX regional vice president for state government affairs, said firefighters are getting as close to the damaged 24,000-gallon tank car as they can, given the heat.

The derailment late Wednesday prompted the evacuation of thousands of people within a mile-and-a-half radius.

Read more from The Washington Post.

washington_stateOLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington state rail safety regulators March 19 recommended BNSF Railway Company be penalized for failing to timely report multiple hazardous material spills along state railways.

The Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) issued the formal complaint following a staff investigation into BNSF’s failure to report 14 releases of various hazardous materials, including crude oil, to the state within the required time period.

State rail safety rules require railroads to make a telephone report of the release of a hazardous material within 30 minutes of learning of the incident to the Washington State Emergency Operations Center’s (EOC) 24-hour duty officer.

The commission staff investigation found that between Nov. 1, 2014, and Feb. 24, 2015, BNSF committed 700 violations of this reporting requirement. Under state law, each day the company fails to report an incident constitutes a separate and distinct violation. The commission has the authority to impose penalties of up to $1,000 per violation, per day of state law or rule.

When a company fails to notify the EOC that a hazardous material incident has occurred, critical response resources may not be deployed, causing potential harm to the public and the environment. There could also be a delay in response and containment resources necessary to clean up hazardous material spills.

The violations were recorded as a result of the following incidents:

  • Nov. 5, 2014, Blaine – BP Cherry Point facility – crude oil spillage on tank
  • Nov. 17, 2014, Pasco – Pasco grain yard – 18-inch streak of diesel fuel on tank car
  • Dec. 7, 2014, Wenatchee – BNSF Wenatchee/Apple yard – hazardous solid waste dripping in rail yard
  • Dec. 8, 2014, Spokane Valley – BNSF Trentwood Station – tank car dripping gas/oil from bottom valve
  • Dec. 9, 2014, Seattle – Balmer Railyard/Interbay – shipment of hazardous solid waste reported leaking liquid identified as primary sludge
  • Dec. 9, 2014, Everett – BNSF Everett/Delta yard – two instances of shipments of hazardous solid waste reported leaking liquid
  • Dec. 9, 2014, Vancouver, BNSF Vancouver yard – shipment of hazardous solid waste reported leaking liquid identified as primary sludge
  • Dec. 10, 2014, Everett BNSF Everett/Delta yard – shipment of hazardous solid waste reported leaking liquid identified as primary sludge
  • Dec. 13, 2014, Quincy – Columbia subdivision – locomotive fire released 100 gallons of lube oil onto tracks
  • Jan. 12, 2015, Vancouver – BNSF Vancouver yard – seven tank cars found leaking crude oil
  • Jan. 13, 2015, Auburn – BNSF Auburn yard – six tank cars found leaking crude oil
  • Jan. 25, 2015, Seattle – BNSF Interbay yard – one BNSF locomotive mechanical problem spilled 100 gallons of lube oil
  • Feb. 12, 2015, Seattle – South Seattle storage facility – UTC inspector found crude oil leaking down the side of a tank car

In October 2014, commission staff sent BNSF a copy of the reporting requirements, and provided the company technical assistance to ensure that BNSF was providing proper notification to the commission regarding hazardous material incidents.

Staff also sent a letter to the regulated railroad industry on Feb. 4, 2015, emphasizing the requirement to provide reports and telephone the EOC within 30 minutes of learning of an event involving fatalities or injuries, the release of hazardous materials, or property damage greater than $50,000.

The companies were informed that failure to provide the required reports is a violation of commission rules and that staff may recommend enforcement action or monetary penalties for companies that fail to report incidents as required.

The company has an opportunity to request a hearing to respond to the allegations.

oil-train-railAt least 18 times in the past three years BNSF Railway freight trains rolled west out of Minneapolis pulling cars filled with hazardous chemicals that were not on the train’s official cargo list, according to train crew complaints.

That’s contrary to federal regulation because in case of an accident, local firefighters can be left in the dark, unable to take quick action to protect vulnerable residents.

Read the complete story at Minnesota Public Radio.

BRYAN COUNTY, Okla. — A Burlington Northern Santa Fe train conductor was taken to Texoma Medical Center in Denison early Wednesday morning after he possibly came in contact with hazardous materials.

Emergency crews responded to the train tracks just north of Platter Road around 3 a.m. A BNSF railroad conductor was inspecting a rail car when he started showing symptoms of possible exposure.

Read the complete story at Television Station KXII.

railyard, train yard; trainsOn a dead-end street in St. Paul, Susan Juaire runs a home day care with a scenic overlook of boxcars, locomotives and railroad tracks. Though she doesn’t like it, Juaire has gotten used to the constant noise of shipping containers being loaded between trucks and trains.

She can’t say the same thing about the long lines of tank cars that roll by daily, without stopping.

Read the complete story at the StarTribune.

Jodi Ross, town manager in Westford, Mass., did not expect she would be threatened with arrest after she and her fire chief went onto the railroad tracks to find out why a train carrying liquid petroleum gas derailed on a bridge in February.

But as they reached the accident site northwest of Boston, a manager for Pan Am Railways called the police, claiming she was trespassing on rail property. The cars were eventually put back on the tracks safely, but the incident underlined a reality for local officials dealing with railroads.

Read the complete story at The New York Times.

rail_workers_hazmatThe Rail Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program announces three HazMat/Chemical Emergency Response Training Programs will be held this spring in Houston, Texas.

These programs address U.S. Department of Transportation and the Occupational Health and safety Administration required training in addition to procedures, levels of response and worker protection in a hazardous materials emergency or release, weapons of mass destruction awareness and the incident command system. The training also provides completion of the OSHA 10-Hour General Industry Outreach requirements.

The programs are delivered using interactive classroom instruction, small group activities, hands-on drills and a simulated hazmat response in full safety gear.

The Rail Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program is funded to provide this training by a federal grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

These five-day hazmat training courses will provide rail workers the essential knowledge, skills, and response actions in the case of an unintentional release. These tools will allow rail workers to protect themselves, their co-workers and their communities.

The funding provides the following student expenses: air travel, lodging and meals. In addition, an incentive of $600 per week is available to all training participants of these programs, except those who are able to secure regular pay through their employer, or are paid union officers.

Training will be conducted at the Houston Fire Department’s Val Jahnke Training Facility, 8030 Braniff St. Houston, TX 77061. Programs begin Sunday evenings at 7 p.m. and conclude Fridays at 1 p.m.

Students may be asked to travel on Saturdays to meet program start times or where substantial reductions in airfare warrant.

Register now by completing the attached application form and emailing it to bsafe2day@gmail.com, or send by U.S. mail to: Henry Jajuga, Director, RWHMTP, 17530 Bering Bridge Lane Humble, TX 77346, Please make sure to select one of the following dates: April 27-May 2, 2014, June 1-6, 2014, or June 8-13, 2014.

For additional information, please contact Henry Jajuga via email. For telephone inquiries, please call (281) 812-6436, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. central standard time.

FRA_logo_wordsThe Federal Railroad Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will host a public meeting Aug. 27-28 in Washington, D.C., about the transportation of hazardous materials by rail. The two DOT agencies want to hear from stakeholders because they have begun a review of operational factors that affect the safe transportation of hazmats by rail, no doubt spurred by the recent Canadian disaster involving a derailed train carrying crude oil to a refinery.

The meeting is scheduled to last from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. both days in the Oklahoma Room in the DOT Conference Center, 1200 New Jersey Ave. S.E., Washington, DC 20590.

Anyone who wants to present an oral statement should notify Kurt Eichenlaub, Railroad Safety specialist in the Hazardous Materials Division’s Office of Safety Assurance and Compliance at FRA, at least four business days prior to the meeting at (20) 493-6050 or Kurt.Eichenlaub@dot.gov.

Comments also may be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov (Docket No. FRA-2013-0067).

This article originally appeared at www.ohsonline.com.

transport-canada-logoOTTAWA — Transport Canada July 23 announced an emergency directive pursuant to section 33 of the Railway Safety Act to increase rail safety, banning one-man crews on trains hauling one or more cars loaded with hazardous materials.

Although the cause of the accident in Lac-Mégantic remains unknown at this time, Transport Canada is moving forward to build upon the safety advisories received last Friday from the Transportation Safety Board and further enhance existing safe railway operations and the security of railway transportation.
Effective immediately, the emergency directive requires all rail operators to:
Ensure that no locomotive attached to one or more loaded tank cars transporting dangerous goods is operated with fewer than two qualified persons on a main track or sidings;
Ensure that no locomotive attached to one or more loaded tank cars transporting dangerous goods is left unattended on a main track;
Ensure, within five days of the issuance of the directive, that all unattended controlling locomotives on a main track and sidings are protected from unauthorized entry into the cab;
Ensure the directional controls, commonly known as reversers, are removed from any unattended locomotives, preventing them from moving forward or backward, on a main track or sidings;
Ensure that their company’s special instructions on hand brakes are applied to any locomotive attached to one or more cars that is left unattended for more than one hour on a main track or sidings;
Ensure that, in addition to complying with their company’s special instructions on hand brakes referred to in the item immediately above, the automatic brake is set in full service position and the independent brake is fully applied for any locomotive attached to one or more cars that are left unattended for one hour or less on a main track or sidings.
The safety of Canadians is Transport Canada’s top priority. The department is committed to working with the rail industry to examining any other means of improving rail safety.
Transport Canada has been in contact with the railway industry, and in particular with CN, CP and the Railway Association of Canada (RAC), to work together to promote the continued safety of Canada’s rail system.
The majority of railways maintain a culture of safety and security, as shown by the notable decline in derailments and train accidents over the past few years.
Transport Canada inspectors will continue to work in cooperation with the Transportation Safety Board as it conducts its investigation.
Transport Canada inspectors are at Lac-Mégantic determining whether there has been non-compliance with regulatory requirements.
Railway safety regulations exist to ensure the safety and protection of the public. If these regulations were not followed, the department will not hesitate to take action.
Transport Canada is responsible for transportation policies and programs. It promotes safe, secure, efficient and environmentally-responsible transportation. Transport Canada reports to Parliament and Canadians through the minister of Transport. It works with its portfolio partners, other government departments and jurisdictions, and industry to ensure that all parts of Canada’s transportation system work well.
The complete release, along with Related Items, can be found here.

nlc_logoThe Rail Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program prides itself on delivering the most valuable worker safety training available. Peer instructors are members of the railroad labor community and take pride in offering the latest and most up-to-date information, teaching techniques and peer support.

The goal of the rail program is to build a nationwide pool of skilled peer trainers to deliver awareness level hazardous material training.

The DOT-funded train-the-trainer courses provide regional peer trainers with the skills and knowledge necessary to deliver this training at their job-sites, union meetings and in their communities. There are no pre-requisites required to participate in the six-day train-the-trainer course.

Two DOT Train-the-Trainer courses will be held July 14-20, 2013, and Sept. 22-28, 2013, at 15101 Sweitzer Lane, Laurel MD, 20707.

Interested rail workers can register online at www.hazmatgmc.org by selecting the course desription tab, followed by the “Register Now” link for the Hazardous Materials Instructors Training.

For more information, call Freddie Thomas in the Hazmat office at (301) 431-5457, or email fthomas@nlc.edu.