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Accident Report Detail

Derailment of Norfolk Southern Railway Company Train 68QB119 with Release of Hazardous Materials and Fire

Executive Summary

‚ÄčAbout 10:41 p.m. eastern daylight time on Friday, October 20, 2006, Norfolk Southern Railway Company train 68QB119, en route from the Chicago, Illinois, area to Sewaren, New Jersey, derailed while crossing the Beaver River railroad bridge in New Brighton, Pennsylvania. The train consisted of a three-unit locomotive pulling 3 empty freight cars followed by 83 tank cars loaded with denatured ethanol, a flammable liquid. Twenty-three of the tank cars derailed near the east end of the bridge, with several of the cars falling into the Beaver River. Of the 23 derailed tank cars, about 20 released ethanol, which subsequently ignited and burned for about 48 hours. Some of the unburned ethanol liquid was released into the river and the surrounding soil. Homes and businesses within a seven-block area of New Brighton and in an area adjacent to the accident were evacuated for 2 days. No injuries or fatalities resulted from the accident. The Norfolk Southern Railway Company estimated total damages to be $5.8 million.

Probable Cause

‚ÄčThe National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the derailment of Norfolk Southern Railway Company train 68QB119 was the Norfolk Southern Railway Company's inadequate rail inspection and maintenance program that resulted in a rail fracture from an undetected internal defect. Contributing to the accident were the Federal Railroad Administration's inadequate oversight of the internal rail inspection process and its insufficient requirements for internal rail inspection.

Accident Location: New Brighton , PA    
Accident Date: 10/20/2006
Accident ID: DCA07MR002

Date Adopted: 5/13/2008
NTSB Number: RAR-08-02
NTIS Number: PB2008-916302