UPDATE 6-Crude oil tank cars ablaze after train derails in Alabama

Fri Nov 8, 2013 9:03pm EST
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(Recasts with some tankers expected to burn until Saturday, quote from company president in paragraph 9)

By Verna Gates and Edward McAllister

ALICEVILLE, Ala. Nov 8 (Reuters) - Several oil tank cars that burst into flames after a train derailed in rural Alabama were expected to keep burning into Saturday, potentially reigniting the push for tougher regulation of the boom in moving oil by rail.

Twenty-five of the train's 90 cars derailed near a 60-foot-long wooden trestle in the early hours of Friday morning, and a number were still on fire 18 hours later, operator Genesee & Wyoming Inc said. They were sending flames hundreds of feet high that could be seen from over 10 miles (16 km) away.

No injuries were reported, but an unknown amount of crude oil spilled into an adjacent marshland, Genesee said. State officials said the oil had been contained, partly thanks to a nearby beaver dam that had already slowed the flow of water. The cause of the incident is under investigation.

A local official said the crude oil had originated in North Dakota, home of the booming Bakken shale patch. If so, it may have been carrying the same type of light crude oil that was on a Canadian train that derailed in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic this summer, killing 47 people.

That incident, which the operator Montreal Maine & Atlantic blamed on a train engineer for not braking sufficiently on an incline, fueled a drive for tougher standards for oil rail shipments. Proposed measures included better testing of potentially explosive ultra-light shale crude and improved rail tank car standards. Tank cars made before 2011 have been cited by regulators as dangerously prone to puncture.

Genesee said the train was hauling 90 DOT-108 tank cars, a different model than the DOT-111s that have been cited before.

Each carried 30,000 gallons (114,000 liters) of crude, or 64,000 barrels in all, Genesee said.   Continued...