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Accident Report Detail

Derailment of Canadian National Freight Train M33371 and Subsequent Release of Hazardous Materials

Executive Summary

‚ÄčAbout 9:04 a.m. central standard time on February 9, 2003, northbound Canadian National freight train M33371, traveling about 40 mph, derailed 22 of its 108 cars in Tamaroa, Illinois. Four of the derailed cars released methanol, and the methanol from two of these four cars fueled a fire. Other derailed cars contained phosphoric acid, hydrochloric acid, formaldehyde, and vinyl chloride. Two cars containing hydrochloric acid, one car containing formaldehyde, and one car containing vinyl chloride released product but were not involved in the fire. About 850 residents were evacuated from the area within a 3-mile radius of the derailment, which included the entire village of Tamaroa. No one was injured during the derailment, although one contract employee was injured during cleanup activities. Damages to track, signals, and equipment, and clearing costs associated with the accident totaled about $1.9 million.

Probable Cause

‚ÄčThe National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the February 9, 2003, derailment of Canadian National train M33371 in Tamaroa, Illinois, was Canadian National's placement of bond wire welds on the head of the rail just outside the joint bars, where untempered martensite associated with the welds led to fatigue and subsequent cracking that, because of increased stresses associated with known soft ballast conditions, rapidly progressed to rail failure.

Accident Location: Tamaroa , IL    
Accident Date: 2/9/2003
Accident ID: DCA03FR002

Date Adopted: 1/25/2005
NTSB Number: RAR-05-01
NTIS Number: PB2005-916301