Monday, July 8, 2013

Regarding That Runaway Crude Oil Freight Train....


July 11, 2013: This disaster could give President O'Bama "top cover" if he decides to approve the Keystone XL. [His decision will be seen as arbitrary and capricious regardless which way he decides.]

July 11, 2013: The WSJ says criminal probe underway. Railroad owner says it is likely engineer didn't set brakes correctly. 

July 10, 2013: Rigzone has a long article on this story.

July 9, 2013: the "runaway freight train" did not frighten off investors. UNP is up almost $4.00 today. Disclaimer: this is not an investment site. Do not make any investment decisions based on what you read here or what you thought you might have read here.

July 9, 2013: The WSJ is reporting:
The operator of the runaway train that derailed and exploded in Lac-M├ęgantic, Quebec, this weekend recorded an accident rate far higher than the U.S. average over the past 10 years, federal data show.
A train operated by Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway Inc., a subsidiary of U.S. train operator Rail World Inc., is at the center of a Canadian probe after the train was left unmanned at a crew rest stop and slammed into the small town early Saturday, triggering a deadly explosion and fire.
Rail World is controlled by a Chicago-area railroad veteran, Edward Burkhardt, who has put together an empire of small railroads around the world. Mr. Burkhardt, Rail World's chairman and chief executive, has spent a lifetime in the industry, earning the respect of many fellow rail executives.
But the 74-year-old Yale graduate has also faced criticism for a bitter battle with one of his boards and for championing the controversial use of remote-controlled trains in rail yards and one-person crews. The deadly Quebec derailment has put MM&A's safety record under a microscope.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada, the country's main investigator of rail accidents, doesn't publicly post safety records of individual operators, but does make that data available upon request. MM&A didn't turn up in a basic record search of Canadian accidents. A spokesman for the safety board said late Monday that a fuller record wasn't immediately available.

July 10, 2013: the train may have been tampered with. CNN is reporting:
The chairman of the company whose driverless train barreled into the small Quebec town of Lac-Megantic and unleashed a deadly inferno told a Montreal newspaper he believes it had been tampered with.
"We have evidence of this," Ed Burkhardt said in an interview published by the Montreal Gazette. "But this is an item that needs further investigation. We need to talk to some people we believe to have knowledge of this."
Original Post  

From Platts:
Analysts also pointed to the dearth of hard facts about the incident, including the question of how a cargo of crude, which is not particularly flammable, was ignited.
I've wondered the same; great question. Weren't just four (4) tank cars of the 73 tank cars involved? I can't remember; seems I read something along that line.  -- yes, here it is, in the original post.



    Much better picture.

    1. Very, very interesting. There was some hints this might be brought up. Some things about this story do not ring true. In addition, the area is well known to be ground zero for activist environmentalists.

      This may turn out to be absolutely untrue, but at least folks will be investigating. It is interesting that our own NTSB is not going to get involved.

  2. Concerning the Question of Flammability. It is true that OIl is very hard to keep burning. My guess is that the Bakken crude contain so much VOC's (Volatile organic Compounds ie NG and gas and other) that coupled with say a down High voltage line could easily create what we see here. I suspect each car has to have some space left in it to allow for temp fluctuations and in these spaces a fuse of explosive substance is ready to go in this unique instance.

    I'm sure they will come up with what ignited it in some report down the road. Deep down, this is not an either or situation between pipelines and rail. As a search can find many stories involving death from both forms of transportation.

    Generally, someone somewhere neglects safety for profitability and people get harmed. Its a song that sadly will play again.

    Have a good day Bruce.

    1. Very nice post, thank you.

      Yes, it is definitely not an "either/or" situation. Much more complicated.