Hazardous Materials Accident Report

Rupture of a Railroad Tank Car Containing Hazardous Waste

Near Clymers, Indiana
February 18, 1999

NTSB Number: HZM-01-01
NTIS Number: PB2001-917002
Adopted March 5, 2001
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Executive Summary

About 12:05 a.m. on February 18, 1999, railroad tank car UTLX 643593, which was on the west unloading rack at the Essroc Cement Corporation (Essroc) Logansport cement plant near Clymers, Indiana, sustained a sudden and catastrophic rupture that propelled the tank of the tank car an estimated 750 feet and over multistory storage tanks. The 20,000-gallon tank car initially contained about 161,700 pounds (14,185 gallons) of a toxic and flammable hazardous waste that was used as a fuel for the plant's kilns. There were no injuries or fatalities. Total damages, including property damage and costs from lost production, were estimated at nearly $8.2 million.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of Essroc Cement Corporation and CP Recycling of Indiana management to develop and implement safe procedures for offloading toluene diisocyanate matter wastes, resulting in the overpressurization of the tank car from chemical self-reaction and expansion of the toluene diisocyanate matter wastes.

This report discusses the following safety issues:

Recommendations

New Recommendations

As a result of its investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following safety recommendations:

To the Federal Railroad Administration

Issue an advisory bulletin reminding shippers of hazardous materials that any time a change is made in the chemical constituents of hazardous materials shipped, they should verify the compatibility of all tank car components, such as valves and gaskets, with all of the commodities to be transported. (R-01-01)

Evaluate, with the assistance of the Research and Special Programs Administration, the Association of American Railroads, and the Railway Progress Institute, the deterioration of pressure relief devices through normal service and then develop inspection criteria to ensure that the pressure relief devices remain functional between regular inspection intervals. Incorporate these inspection criteria into the U.S. Department of Transportation Hazardous Materials Regulations. (R-01-02)

To the Research and Special Programs Administration

Evaluate, with the assistance of the Federal Railroad Administration, the Association of American Railroads, and the Railway Progress Institute, the deterioration of pressure relief devices through normal service and then develop inspection criteria to ensure that the pressure relief devices remain functional between regular inspection intervals. Incorporate these inspection criteria into the U.S. Department of Transportation Hazardous Materials Regulations. (R-01-03)

Develop and implement policies and procedures to ensure that comprehensive reports concerning all significant failures of U.S. Department of Transportation specification tank cars, highway cargo tanks, and intermodal bulk containers containing hazardous materials are provided in writing to the Research and Special Programs Administration. (I-01-01)

To the Association of American Railroads (R-01-04)
To the Railway Progress Institute (R-01-05)

Assist the Federal Railroad Administration and the Research and Special Programs Administration in the evaluation of the deterioration of pressure relief devices through normal service and the development of inspection criteria to ensure that the pressure relief devices remain functional between regular inspection intervals.

To the Essroc Cement Corporation (I-01-02)
To CP Recycling, Inc., and Affiliated Companies (I-01-03)
To the Olin Corporation (I-01-04)
To the Lyondell Chemical Company (I-01-05)

Collaborate with applicable producers, shippers, consignees, and end-users in the development and implementation of specific and written procedures for the loading or offloading of any chemical or waste material from a railroad tank car, highway cargo tank, or other bulk transportation vessel when the chemical or waste material exhibits properties that require special handling or processing during the loading or offloading operation.

Previously Issued Recommendation Reiterated in this Report To the Research and Special Programs Administration

I-00-06
Within 1 year of the issuance of this safety recommendation, complete rulemaking on Docket HM-223, "Applicability of the Hazardous Materials Regulations to Loading, Unloading, and Storage," to establish, for all modes of transportation, safety requirements for loading and unloading hazardous materials.