WBEZ | train derailment http://www.wbez.org/tags/train-derailment Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Battle over new oil train standards pits safety against cost http://www.wbez.org/news/battle-over-new-oil-train-standards-pits-safety-against-cost-112224 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/oil-train-ap_custom-0650f8c189b33da022b256e602227302594e89d9-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The federal government&#39;s new rules aimed at preventing explosive oil train derailments are sparking a backlash from all sides.</p><p>The railroads, oil producers and shippers say some of the new safety requirements are unproven and too costly, yet some safety advocates and environmental groups say the regulations aren&#39;t strict enough and still leave too many people at risk.</p><p>Since February, five trains carrying North Dakota Bakken crude oil have derailed and exploded into flames in the U.S. and Canada. No one was hurt in the incidents in Mount Carbon, W.Va., and Northern Ontario in February; in Galena, Ill., and Northern Ontario in March; and in Heimdal, N.D., in May.</p><p>But each of those fiery train wrecks occurred in lightly populated areas. Scores of oil trains also travel through dense cities, particularly Chicago, the nation&#39;s railroad hub.</p><p>According to state records and published reports, about 40 or more trains carrying Bakken crude roll through the city each week on just the BNSF Railway&#39;s tracks alone. Those trains pass right by apartment buildings, homes, businesses and schools.</p><p>&quot;Well just imagine the carnage,&quot; said Christina Martinez. She was standing alongside the BNSF tracks in Chicago&#39;s Pilsen neighborhood as a long train of black tank cars slowly rolled by, right across the street from St. Procopius, the Catholic elementary school her 6-year-old attends.</p><p>&quot;Just the other day they were playing soccer at my son&#39;s school on Saturday and I saw the train go by and it had the &#39;1267&#39;, the red marking,&quot; Martinez said, referring to the red, diamond-shaped placards on railroad tank cars that indicate their contents. The number 1267 signifies crude oil. &quot;And I was like, &#39;Oh my God.&#39; Can you imagine if it would derail and explode right here while these kids are playing soccer and all the people around there?&quot;</p><p>New federal rules require stronger tank cars, with thicker shells and higher front and back safety shields for shipping crude oil and other flammable liquids. Older, weaker models that more easily rupture will have to be retrofitted or replaced within three to five years. But Martinez and others wanted rules limiting the volatility of what&#39;s going into those tank cars, too.</p><p>Oil from North Dakota has a highly combustible mix of natural gases including butane, methane and propane. The state requires the conditioning of the gas and oil at the wellhead so the vapor pressure is below 13.7 pounds per square inch before it&#39;s shipped. But even at that level, oil from derailed tank cars has exploded into flames.</p><p>And many safety advocates had hoped federal regulators would require conditioning to lower the vapor pressure even more.</p><p>&quot;We don&#39;t want these bomb trains going through our neighborhood,&quot; said Lora Chamberlain of the group Chicagoland Oil by Rail. &quot;De-gasify the stuff. And so we&#39;re really, really upset at the feds, the Department of Transportation, for not addressing this in these new rules.&quot;</p><p>Others criticize the rules for giving shippers three to five years to either strengthen or replace the weakest tank cars.</p><p>&quot;The rules won&#39;t take effect for many years,&quot; said Paul Berland, who lives near busy railroad tracks in suburban Elgin. &quot;They&#39;re still playing Russian roulette with our communities.&quot;</p><p>A coalition of environmental groups &mdash; including Earthjustice, ForestEthics and the Sierra Club &mdash; sued, alleging that loopholes could allow some dangerous tank cars to remain on the tracks for up to a decade.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t think our federal regulators did the job that they needed to do here; I think they wimped out, as it were,&quot; said Tom Weisner, mayor of Aurora, Ill., a city of 200,000 about 40 miles west of Chicago that has seen a dramatic increase in oil trains rumbling through it.</p><p>Weisner is upset that the new rules provide exemptions to trains with fewer than 20 contiguous tank cars of a flammable liquid, such as oil, and for trains with fewer than 35 such tank cars in total.</p><p>&quot;They&#39;ve left a hole in the regulations that you could drive a freight train through,&quot; Weisner said.</p><p>At the same time, an oil industry group is challenging the new regulations in court, too, arguing that manufacturers won&#39;t be able to build and retrofit tank cars fast enough to meet the requirements.</p><p>The railroad industry is also taking action against the new crude-by-rail rules, filing an appeal of the new rules with the Department of Transportation.</p><p>In a statement, Association of American Railroads spokesman Ed Greenberg said: &quot;It is the AAR&#39;s position the rule, while a good start, does not sufficiently advance safety and fails to fully address ongoing concerns of the freight rail industry and the general public. The AAR is urging the DOT to close the gap in the rule that allows shippers to continue using tank cars not meeting new design specifications, to remove the ECP brake requirement, and to enhance thermal protection by requiring a thermal blanket as part of new tank car safety design standards.&quot;</p><p>AAR&#39;s President Ed Hamberger discussed the problems the railroads have with the new rules in an interview with NPR prior to filing the appeal. &quot;The one that we have real problems with is requiring something called ECP brakes &mdash; electronically controlled pneumatic brakes,&quot; he said, adding the new braking system that the federal government is mandating is unproven.</p><p>&quot;[DOT does] not claim that ECP brakes would prevent one accident,&quot; Hamberger said. &quot;Their entire safety case is based on the fact that ECP brakes are applied a little bit more quickly than the current system.&quot;</p><p>Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg disagreed. &quot;It&#39;s not unproven at all,&quot; she said, noting that the railroads say ECP brakes could cost nearly $10,000 per tank car.</p><p>&quot;I do understand that the railroad industry views it as costly,&quot; Feinberg adds. &quot;I don&#39;t think it&#39;s particularly costly, especially when you compare it to the cost of a really significant incident with a train carrying this product.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re talking about unit trains, 70 or more cars, that are transporting an incredibly volatile and flammable substance through towns like Chicago, Philadelphia,&quot; Feinberg continues. &quot;I want those trains to have a really good braking system. I don&#39;t want to get into an argument with the rail industry that it&#39;s too expensive. I want people along rail lines to be protected.&quot;</p><p>Feinberg said her agency is still studying whether to regulate the volatility of crude, but some in Congress don&#39;t think this safety matter can wait.</p><p>&quot;The new DOT rule is just like saying let the oil trains roll,&quot; U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said in a statement. &quot;It does nothing to address explosive volatility, very little to address the threat of rail car punctures, and is too slow on the removal of the most dangerous cars.&quot;</p><p>Cantwell is sponsoring legislation to force oil producers to reduce the crude&#39;s volatility to make it less explosive, before shipping it on the nation&#39;s rails.</p></p> Fri, 19 Jun 2015 14:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/battle-over-new-oil-train-standards-pits-safety-against-cost-112224 CTA facing lawsuits over Blue Line crash http://www.wbez.org/news/cta-facing-lawsuits-over-blue-line-crash-109923 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP661422106797(1)_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-4d56c266-0058-d3dc-b02d-129942eb4a5c">Two women who say they were hurt in Monday&rsquo;s O&rsquo;Hare station train crash have filed lawsuits against the Chicago Transit Authority. Attorneys say there are more lawsuits to come.</p><p>The women both work in O&rsquo;Hare International Airport and were passengers on the CTA Blue Line train that jumped the tracks and plowed up an escalator at the airport station. Both claim they suffered debilitating injuries in the accident, which occurred early Monday morning.<br /><br />Both suits were filed in Cook County court and the plaintiffs demand more than $50,000 in damages.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/leaked-video-appears-show-blue-line-train-derailment-109917">Leaked video appears to show Blue Line train derailment</a></strong></p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Jerry Latherow, the attorney for plaintiff Niakesha Thomas, said Thomas was on her way to work at Hudson&rsquo;s News Stand in the airport when the train crashed.</p><p>The lawyer said Thomas cannot walk right now because of her injuries.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;She&rsquo;s a sole bread-winner, she has a 1-year-old baby. She is not going to be able to work, we don&rsquo;t know how long it&rsquo;s going to be before she gets back to work. But she needs to do what she can to protect herself and her baby,&rdquo; Latherow said.</p><p>He said Thomas suffered injuries to her hips and back.</p><p dir="ltr">The lawsuit alleges the crash was caused by a combination of operator error and failures by the CTA to maintain the tracks and train equipment.</p><p>Federal officials say the train operator admitted that she &ldquo;dozed off&quot; before the accident.</p><p dir="ltr">National Transportation Safety Board investigator Ted Turpin said the woman had been working as an operator for about two months and acknowledged she had previously fallen asleep on the job in February, when her train partially missed a station.</p><p>&quot;She did admit that she dozed off prior to entering the station,&quot; Turpin said of the operator during a briefing Wednesday. &quot;She did not awake until the train hit.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">He said the woman, who was cooperating with the investigation, often worked an erratic schedule, filling in for other CTA employees.</p><p>&quot;Her hours would vary every day,&quot; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">Turpin said the NTSB is investigating the woman&#39;s training, scheduling, and disciplinary history.</p><p>Latherow said it is &ldquo;very alarming&rdquo; that the transit agency allowed someone who had fallen asleep at the helm before to operate another train.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;She&rsquo;d only been working as an &hellip; operator for 60 days &hellip; and here she&rsquo;s fallen asleep what comes out to once a month now,&rdquo; Latherow said. &ldquo;And this is very alarming, and you wonder who is calling the shots? Who is letting somebody like this continue to operate a train, which is deadly?&rdquo;</p><p>Latherow said an aim of the suit is to force change at the CTA -- including altering the agency&rsquo;s hiring policies and fixing the train&rsquo;s braking system.</p><p dir="ltr">A CTA spokeswoman said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.</p><p>The second lawsuit was filed by 23-year-old Dalila Jefferson, a security officer who also was on her way to work at the airport.</p><p dir="ltr">Her attorneys said she was preparing to get off the first car of the train when she was &quot;catapulted forward&quot; as the car jumped the track and came to rest partway up an escalator.</p><p>Attorneys said Jefferson broke her foot and suffered neck and back injuries.</p><p dir="ltr">More than 30 people were hurt during the crash, which occurred around 3 a.m. Monday. None of the injuries was life-threatening.</p><p>Nonetheless, Latherow predicts many more lawsuits. He said his firm is already preparing another suit against the CTA, this one brought by a Transportation Security Administration worker who was hurt on her way to work.</p><p dir="ltr">Turpin said the crash caused about $6 million worth of damage.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/pksmid" target="_blank">@pksmid</a></em></p></p> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 16:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cta-facing-lawsuits-over-blue-line-crash-109923 Sen. Durbin calls for railroad checks http://www.wbez.org/news/sen-durbin-calls-railroad-checks-100726 <p><p>Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says he wants the federal government to spot-check railroad infrastructure in light of the train accident in the northern suburbs last week that killed two people.&nbsp;The Union Pacific train that derailed caused a 28-car pileup, which then caused the bridge it was on to collapse.</p><div>A spokesman from Union Pacific Railroad said a similar train derailment happened in the same area in 2009.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sen. Durbin said Monday he wants the Federal Railroad Administration to check in on parts of the railway that might be problematic &mdash; whether it&#39;s because of bad weather or a change in traffic.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I know that&#39;s a big ask because at the federal level we have restriction of funds. But this tragic accident is a reminder of the vulnerability we have when infrastructure fails,&quot; Durbin said.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Durbin said railroad accidents are the responsibility of the railroad, not the state or federal government. &nbsp;But since railways cross many states, and deal with interstate commerce, he wants the FRA to step up.&nbsp;Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis said they wouldn&#39;t mind the additional checks.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to the Associated Press, the victims in last week&#39;s accident were 69-year-old Burton Lindner and 70-year-old Zorine Lindner, a couple from Glenview. Their son has filed a lawsuit against Union Pacific Railroad.</div></p> Mon, 09 Jul 2012 14:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sen-durbin-calls-railroad-checks-100726 Train derails in Chicago, no serious injuries http://www.wbez.org/news/train-derails-chicago-no-serious-injuries-98663 <p><p>Authorities say a special Chicago Transit Authority train that had been chartered by railroad enthusiasts as a fundraiser derailed on the elevated tracks Sunday.</p><p>The train was chartered by the Illinois Railway Museum to raise funds for the museum. Those aboard paid $100 to ride the train from the 1960s and 1970s.</p><p>Officials say one car derailed around 11:30 a.m. Sunday on the elevated tracks in Chicago's South Loop neighborhood. There were dozens of people aboard.</p><p>Chicago Fire Department officials say there were no reports of serious injuries.</p><p>CTA spokesman Steve Mayberry says passengers were walked from the train along the elevated tracks.</p><p>Daniel Boylan was aboard. The 46-year-old tells the Chicago <em>Tribune</em> that it's a different experience than they expected, but now they have a story to tell.</p></p> Mon, 30 Apr 2012 09:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/train-derails-chicago-no-serious-injuries-98663 Freight train derailment sparks fire, forces evacuation http://www.wbez.org/content/freight-train-derailment-sparks-fire-forces-evacuation <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-07/trainfire.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-07/trainfire-span.jpg" title="Rail cars lie in a smoldering heap after a freight train loaded with ethanol, crashed and exploded Friday. (AP)" width="630" height="401"></p><p>A fiery freight train derailment in north-central Illinois sent up bright orange flames and plumes of smoke that could be seen miles away, and has forced authorities to evacuate residents of the small community of Tiskilwa.</p><p>The Bureau County sheriff's office says the train derailed early Friday. Resident Amanda Knight says the explosions she heard sounded "like a jet coming over the town."</p><p>Mick Burkart of Iowa Interstate Railroad says 26 cars on the 131-car train derailed, including seven to nine loaded with ethanol, which Capt. Steve Haywood of the Ottawa Fire Department says was being shipped by Decatur-based corn processor Archer Daniels Midland.</p><p>There's been no immediate word about any injuries related to the derailment. Authorities say the town's evacuees are being taken to Princeton High School.</p><p>The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is responding to the scene of the derailment. EPA spokeswoman Maggie Carson says the representative heading to Tiskilwa intends to make sure waterways and the environment are protected. Carson says that what's known about the derailment so far suggests that fumes will burn off and there won't be long-term effects for residents.</p><p>Tiskilwa is a village of about 800 people that's located about 100 miles west of Chicago.</p></p> Fri, 07 Oct 2011 14:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/freight-train-derailment-sparks-fire-forces-evacuation