Valdosta Daily Times

National, International News

July 20, 2013

Insufficient brake force blamed in Canada crash

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec — Insufficient brake force was applied before an oil train slammed into a town in Quebec on July 6 and killed 47 people, officials said Friday.

Donald Ross, chief investigator for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, said the insufficient brake force could have been due to mechanical problems with the handbrakes, or a problem with the way someone applied them.

“The train got out of control because it wasn’t fully immobilized,” said Transportation Safety Board investigator Ed Belkaloul. “The number of brakes (applied) is important, but the quality of the braking is also important.”

An unattended Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway train was parked overnight on a rail line before it came loose, hurtling down a seven-mile incline. The train derailed and ignited in Lac-Megantic, near the Maine border. All but one of its 73 cars was carrying crude oil, and at least five exploded, setting off massive explosions that devastated the small lakeside town of 6,000 people.

A spokesman for the agency said it’s had a closer look at 25 tanker cars since gaining access to the blast site two days ago — and has taken pictures and samples.

The investigators said they are also analyzing the contents of the tanker cars that did not explode in the crash, looking for clues on why the crude oil in the other cars exploded so violently.

“We want a more in-depth chemical analysis of the goods. We want to make sure dangerous goods do not explode,” said Belkaloul.

The agency says the investigation has already resulted in two safety advisories urging a revision of the Canadian Rail Operating rule governing the securing of parked trains.

It says the rule is not specific enough because it does not spell out how many handbrakes to apply for various weights and types of cargo. It also said that the standard, so-called “push-pull test” does not always accurately show whether the brakes have been adequately applied.

“Rule 112 says you need a sufficient number of brakes. What does that mean, sufficient? Because if you have a locomotive of 120 rail cars, that is the problem, a train engineer has to decide how many of those elements to take into account and that is the problem,” said Belkaloul.

The board has also advised Transport Canada that dangerous goods should not be left unattended on a main track and, also, that rail equipment be properly secured.

Ross said there are similarities between the Lac-Megantic accident and previous ones, including an incident near Sept-Iles, Quebec, in December 2011 that had to do with securing trains. In that case, air brakes on the train were released and it started to move because an insufficient number of hand brakes were applied.

Ross said they are also looking at official documents, like shipping documents and rail journals.

“We are interested in the one-man train operation that existed here as well as the railways’ safety management system plan,” Ross said.

The transportation watchdog’s advisory comes a week after Edward Burkhardt, president and CEO of the railway’s U.S.-based parent company, Rail World Inc., blamed the train’s engineer for the accident. Burkhardt questioned whether he had properly set enough hand brakes and said the engineer had been suspended without pay.

The board said that while the investigation is expected to take quite some time, it won’t wait to send safety warnings.

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt’s office said Friday that the department has been directed to review the board’s recommendations on an expedited basis.

Canada’s two largest railways announced earlier this week that they are strengthening their own safety procedures in the wake of the Lac-Megantic disaster. Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railway said the tragedy prompted them to review their policies, including brake-setting procedures.

Montreal, Maine & Atlantic railway has also said it is reviewing its safety procedures.

Meanwhile, emergency officials continue to comb through the wreckage, searching for bodies amid intense heat and hazardous conditions. Authorities have recovered the remains of 42 bodies, five bodies remain missing. Initially officials estimated 50 people died in the disaster but revised that figure to 47 on Friday.

1
Text Only
National, International News
  • Boston Marathon Bombi_Rich copy.jpg Questions linger year after Boston Marathon bombs

    A surveillance video shows a man prosecutors say is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placing a bomb near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, just yards from where an 8-year-old boy was killed when it exploded.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP120401029 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, April 15, the 105th day of 2014. There are 260 days left in the year.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Space Station_Rich copy.jpg NASA OKs space station visit despite dead computer

    NASA is pressing ahead with Monday’s planned launch of a supply ship despite a critical computer outage at the International Space Station, promising the situation is safe.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fatal Shooting Kansas_Rich copy.jpg 3 dead after suburban Kansas City shooting

    A man opened fire outside a Jewish community center on Sunday, killing two people before driving over to a retirement community a few blocks away and killing someone else, authorities said.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Seven Dead Babies Arr_Rich(1) copy.jpg Utah woman arrested after 7 dead babies found

    A Utah woman accused of killing several babies she gave birth to over 10 years was arrested Sunday after police discovered seven tiny bodies stuffed in separate cardboard boxes in the garage of her former home.
    Megan Huntsman, 39, who lived in the Pleasant Grove home until three years ago, had the infants between 1996 and 2006, investigators said.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP110714053482 copy.jpg Today in History for Monday, April 14, 2014

    Today is Monday, April 14, the 104th day of 2014. There are 261 days left in the year. The Jewish holiday Passover begins at sunset.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Range Showdow_Rich copy.jpg Feds release cows gathered in Nevada roundup

    Federal land managers confirmed Saturday that they released all 400 or so head of cattle rounded up on public land in southern Nevada from a rancher who has refused to recognize their authority.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Ukraine_Rich copy.jpg Uniformed men occupy Donetsk police HQ

    Men in the uniforms of Ukraine’s now-defunct riot police on Saturday occupied police headquarters in Donetsk, the eastern city that is one of the flashpoints of a wave of pro-Russia protests, hours after armed men seized local police headquarters and a local branch of the Security Service in a nearby city.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Australia Malaysia Pl_Rich copy.jpg Long hunt for missing jet looms as pings go silent

    After a week of optimism over four underwater signals believed to be coming from the missing Malaysian plane, the sea has gone quiet and Australia’s leader is warning that the massive search will likely be long.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP82016106626 copy.jpg Today in History for Sunday, April 13, 2014

    Today is Palm Sunday, April 13, the 103rd day of 2014. There are 262 days left in the year.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results