Two derailed oil cars on Canada train likely suspect type

Thu Jan 9, 2014 4:00pm EST
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By Solarina Ho and Randall Palmer

TORONTO/OTTAWA (Reuters) - Some of the crude-oil tanker cars on the Canadian National Railway train that derailed and caught fire in New Brunswick on Tuesday appear to be of an older type that regulators have warned is vulnerable to leaks and explosions.

Of the five crude tank cars that derailed, two were older DOT-111 models, a CN Rail spokesman said on Thursday, citing information the company received from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

The train derailed in a rural area near a small village in the eastern Canadian province of New Brunswick on Tuesday night. A total of 19 cars and one locomotive on the 122-car, four-locomotive train went off the rails.

Three cars were still burning on Thursday and one of them was a crude tanker.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board says older models of the DOT-111 are vulnerable to leaks and explosions. The cars have become a focal point in a debate on rail safety regulation as crude-by-rail shipments across the continent surge.

CN Rail did not specify whether the crude tanker still on fire was an old or new model or whether the newer versions of the DOT-111 fared any better than the older ones in the crash.

Three of the five derailed crude tank cars were new DOT-111 models that comply with higher U.S. standards ordered after October 2011, CN spokesman Mark Hallman said in an email.

"Two of the tank cars of crude oil that derailed in the New Brunswick incident are the older DOT-111 tank cars that CN and the rail industry are recommending be phased out or retrofitted," Hallman said, adding that the vast majority of tank cars are owned by shippers and by rolling-stock leasing companies and not by railways.   Continued...

Flames and smoke are seen at the site of a train derailment in Wapske, New Brunswick, January 8, 2014. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger