February 16, 2017: TSB Calls for Strategies to Reduce Severity of Dangerous Goods Derailments

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is recommending Transport Canada develop strategies to reduce the severity of derailments that involve dangerous goods.

This recommendation follows the investigation into the February 14, 2015 derailment of 100 tank cars carrying petroleum crude oil. The accident caused 1.7 million liters of crude oil to spill, ignite and burn for five days. The derailment was caused when joint bars in the tracks failed. This could have been prevented, however, had previous inspections noticed fatigue cracks in the joint bars at that particular location. The pre-existing cracks in combination with cold temperatures and repetitive impacts from trains caused the joint bars to fail. During the course of the investigation it was determined that the training, on the job mentoring, and supervisory support that is provided to an assistant track supervisor are insufficient.

Kathy Fox, Chair of the TSB, stated “This accident occurred at a speed below the maximum speed permitted by the Transport Canada approved Rules Respecting Key Trains and Key Routes. The TSB is concerned that the current speed limits may not be low enough for some trains—particularly unit trains carrying flammable liquids. We are also calling for Transport Canada to look at all of the factors, including speed, which contributed to the severity of derailments, to develop mitigating strategies and to amend the rules accordingly.”

She went on to say “The Transportation of flammable liquids by rail has been on the TSB Watchlist since 2014. While stronger tank cars are being built, the current ones will be in service for years to come. The risks will also remain until all of the factors leading to derailments and contributing to their severity are mitigated. This is the focus of the recommendation we issued today.”

TSB calls for strategies to reduce severity of dangerous goods derailments following investigation into February 2015 accident near Gogama, Ontario