Source: Postmedia News
Published: February 15th 2012
largest freight railway operator is being blamed for
a fiery 2009 train derailment in the United States
that killed one person and injured seven others.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board released a report Tuesday that determined Canadian National Railway acted too slowly to warn an oncoming train of a track washout in Cherry Valley, Ill., resulting in the fatal crash. Several of the train's cars went off the tracks and caught fire.
The NTSB report found that the washout was discovered about an hour before the train's arrival, but CN's "inadequate emergency communication procedures prevented timely notification."
"There were missteps and miscommunications, procedures not followed and poor decisions," NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a release. "There were multiple points where this catastrophe could have been averted, but it was not."
On June 19, 2009, an eastbound CN freight train consisting of two locomotives and 114 cars derailed at a highway/rail grade crossing in Cherry Valley, Ill., the report says. Nineteen of the cars derailed, all of which were tank cars carrying ethanol, a flammable liquid. Thirteen of the derailed cars were breached or lost product and caught fire.
At time of the incident, several vehicles were stopped on either side of the crossing waiting for the train to pass. As a result of the fire that erupted after the derailment, a passenger in one of the vehicles was fatally injured, the report says.
Two passengers in the same car received serious injuries, and five occupants of the other cars waiting at the crossing were injured. Two firefighters also suffered minor injuries battling the blaze.
The resulting fire prompted a mandatory evacuation of about 600 homes near the accident site.
The report also found that CN's "failure to work with Winnebago County to develop a comprehensive storm water management design to address previous washouts in 2006 and 2007" contributed to the derailment.
The NTSB report also pointed to the inadequate design of the tank cars, which made the cars subject to damage and catastrophic loss of hazardous materials during the derailment.
The NTSB recommended that CN implement a program to test its internal emergency communication system and ensure that personnel are familiar with its system's operation It also recommended CN put in place a process to ensure accuracy and visibility of emergency contact information at all highway-rail grade crossings on its rail system.