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Accident Report Detail

Derailment of CSX Transportation Inc. Freight Train and Hazardous Materials Release

Executive Summary

About 11.20 a.m. central daylight time on July 22, 1989, CSX Transportation, Inc., freight train R-331-22 derailed near Freeland, Michigan. The train consisted of 2 locomotive units, 17 loaded freight cars, 15 empty freight cars, and an unoccupied caboose. Of the 14 freight cars that derailed, 6 were tank cars that sustained damage resulting in either partial or total loss of load. A flatcar (ATSF 90005) carrying a heat recovery steam generator, which was being transported as an excess dimensional load, overturned, and the module was destroyed. One nearby residence was destroyed by the fire that ignited following the release of hazardous materials. About 1,000 residents were evacuated for 7 days after the accident. No one was killed; 11 people were treated for injuries Estimated damage exceeded $4 million.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was inadequate car inspection by CSX and ATSF that, combined with other factors, including track conditions and train handling, resulted in wheel lift and the subsequent derailment of ATSF 90005. Contributing to the severity of the accident were the release of hazardous materials from tank cars that were not equipped with head-shield protection and the lack of effective fire fighting techniques for responding to large trimethylchlorosilane fires.

Accident Location: Freeland , MI    
Accident Date: 7/22/1989
Accident ID: DCA89MR005

Date Adopted: 7/23/1991
NTSB Number: RAR-91-04
NTIS Number: PB91-916304

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