Rail industry needs to better detect, report broken tank-car stub sills, Canada's TSB says (8/26/2010)


Earlier this week, Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) issued a report warning that tens of thousands of faulty tank cars might be in operation nationwide.

The board’s final report, which reviewed investigation results from a 2009 accident near Dugald, Manitoba, states a faulty stub sill went undetected, allowing a tank car loaded with 51,500 pounds of flammable liquid propylene to separate from the rest of the train before coming to a stop.

Although the train didn’t derail, a lack of formal protocols to record and report stub sill failures might prevent other broken parts from being found before the next accident, the TSB determined. About 41,000 tank cars in the North American fleet are equipped with the same stub sill model, 35,000 of which still are in service carrying hazardous materials, said Rob Johnston, TSB’s acting rail/pipeline director of investigations, in a prepared statement.

“Although these [cars] represent just 13 percent of the tank population, they account for 34 percent of the cracked stub sills and 100 percent of the broken ones in Canada,” he said.

Transport Canada was either unaware of, or had limited information regarding stub sill failures, so the problem went undetected, according to the TSB, an independent agency that investigates rail, marine, pipeline and aviation accidents. The board recommends that Transport Canada “take the lead” in coordinating with the rail industry and other North American regulators on reporting stub sill failures, TSB officials said.

Source: Progressive Railroading Daily News