Illinois oil train derailment involved safer tank cars

Oil Train Derailment Illinois

Fiery oil train derailment in western Illinois involved tank cars built to safer standard

Power Source

By The Associated Press

GALENA, Ill. (AP) — The two rail cars that split open and burst into flames during a western Illinois oil train derailment were retrofitted with protective shields to meet a higher safety standard than federal law requires, the railroad said.

Thursday’s accident in a rural area south of the city of Galena is the latest failure of the safer tank car model and raises more concerns that even tougher requirements are needed.

Six of the BNSF Railway train’s 105 cars derailed in an area where the Galena River meets the Mississippi. Two of those cars burst into flames. No injuries have been reported.

The company said in a news release that the train’s tank cars were a newer model known as the 1232, which was designed during safety upgrades voluntarily adopted by the industry four years ago in hopes of keeping cars from rupturing during derailments. But 1232 standard cars involved in three other accidents have split open in the past year, leading some to call for tougher requirements.

Those other accidents included one last month in West Virginia in which a train carrying 3 million gallons of North Dakota crude derailed, shooting fireballs into the sky, leaking oil into a waterway and burning down a house. The home’s owner was treated for smoke inhalation, but no one else was injured.

Thursday’s accident in Illinois led local officials to announce a voluntary evacuation of an area within 1 mile because of the presence of a propane tank near the derailment. Only a family of two agreed to leave their home, Galena City Administrator Mark Moran said Thursday.

The train had 103 cars loaded with crude oil, along with two buffer cars loaded with sand, according to company spokesman Andy Williams. The cause of the derailment hasn’t been determined.

The accident occurred 3 miles south of Galena in a wooded and hilly area that is a major tourist attraction and the home of former President Ulysses S. Grant.

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