Railroad Accident Report

Derailment of CSX Freight Train Q316 and
Subsequent Hazardous Material Release

Cox Landing, West Virginia
June 20, 1998

NTSB Number: RAR-99-01
NTIS Number: PB99-916301
Adopted June 29, 1999
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Executive Summary

About 12:37 p.m. eastern daylight time on Saturday, June 20, 1998, 30 of the 148 cars making up eastbound CSX Transportation, Inc., (CSX) train Q316 derailed at Cox Landing, West Virginia. Of the derailed cars, three were loaded with hazardous material, and eight others contained hazardous material residue. Two of the loaded cars were damaged in the pileup and leaked a combined volume of about 21,500 gallons of formaldehyde solution. No one was injured during the derailment of the train; however, 15 persons reported minor injuries as a result of the release of formaldehyde. Total damages in the accident exceeded $2.6 million.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this derailment was an unstable roadbed that resulted from the inadequate or ineffective measures taken by CSX Transportation, Inc., to permanently correct known drainage problems in the accident area.

The major safety issues identified in this investigation were the track and roadbed conditions on the CSX's Ohio River Subdivision, the effectiveness of Cabell County's emergency response procedures, the effective use of available hazardous materials information, and the coordination of safety-critical operations during wreckage-clearing operations.

Recommendations

As a result of its investigation of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board makes safety recommendations as follows:

To the Federal Railroad Administration:

Review both the implementation and the management oversight of CSX Transportation's track inspection and maintenance programs for the Ohio River Subdivision and take the actions necessary to ensure the safe passage of trains and the safe shipment of hazardous materials through the area. (R-99-3)

To CSX Transportation, Inc.:

Perform a comprehensive engineering analysis and evaluation of track and roadbed conditions on the Ohio River Subdivision and develop a plan and a timetable for correcting existing or potential deficiencies, including inadequate drainage, that may affect the safe passage of trains and the safe shipment of hazardous materials through the area. Provide to the National Transportation Safety Board a schedule to correct the deficiencies found during the evaluation. (R-99-4)

Develop and implement incident coordination procedures that will ensure that safety-critical operations during wreckage-clearing activities are coordinated with all parties involved in those activities. (R-99-5)

Review and revise, as necessary, in light of this accident, your community outreach and training assistance programs to ensure that all emergency response groups that may be called upon to respond to an incident or accident involving your railroad receive the necessary training on a timely and recurring basis. (R-99-6)

To Cabell and Wayne Counties' Local Emergency Planning Committee:

Revise your emergency response plan to incorporate information about the capabilities and use of Operation Respond Emergency Information System software. (R-99-7)

Include, in your periodic disaster drills, exercises designed to familiarize emergency responders with the capabilities and use of Operation Respond Emergency Information System software. (R-99-8)

Include in your periodic disaster drills all emergency response agencies within your jurisdiction, including the Ohio River Road Volunteer Fire Department, and ensure that those agencies are aware of Cabell and Wayne Counties' emergency response plan and its implementation. (R-99-9)

In cooperation with CSX Transportation, Inc., develop and implement incident coordination procedures that will ensure that safety-critical operations during wreckage-clearing activities are coordinated with all parties involved in those activities. (R-99-10)

To Mountaineer Gas Company:

In cooperation with CSX Transportation, Inc., develop and implement incident coordination procedures that will ensure that safety-critical operations during wreckage-clearing activities are coordinated with all parties involved in those activities. (R-99-11)