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Accident Report Detail

Illinois Central Gulf Railroad Company Freight Train Derailment, Hazardous Material Release and Evacuation

Executive Summary

About 7:58 a.m., on July 26, 1980, 4 locomotive units and 17 cars, including 7 placarded tank cars containing hazardous materials, of Illinois Central Gulf Railroad Company freight train No. 64 were derailed while moving at a calculated speed of about 35 mph around a 6 curve in Muldraugh, Kentucky. Two tank cars of vinyl chloride were punctured and their contents burned. Flames impinged two other tank cars of vinyl chloride, causing one to vent toxic fumes, but neither car ruptured. About 6,500 persons were evacuated from Muldraugh and the U.S. Army installation at Fort Knox. Four train crewmembers were injured during the derailment, and property damage was estimated at $1,348,394.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the tipping of the outside rail and widening of track gage in the 6 curve because of the combined effects of detective crossties, excessively worn rail, irregular alignment and gage, and the lateral forces produced by the train's speed. Inadequate maintenance and inspection practices of the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad allowed these conditions to remain uncorrected. Contributing to the accident was the inadequate Federal Track Safety Standards which failed to provide for a track structure commensurate with the permitted train speeds.

Accident Location: Muldraugh , KY    
Accident Date: 7/26/1980
Accident ID: 79808

Date Adopted: 2/3/1981
NTSB Number: RAR-81-01
NTIS Number: PB81-163511

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