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Railway Incidents Involving Hazardous Materials

As many of you are aware, there have been several recent incidents that have involved railway derailments of tank cars and the release of hazardous materials with fire. The IAFF would like to remind emergency response personnel of the importance of effective size-up to provide a risk-based response. With the increase in oil production and inadequate pipeline infrastructure to move it, there has been a substantial increase in the rail transportation of crude oil.  The DOT 111 non-pressure rail tank car is utilized to move the product. 

Although the American Association of Railroads adopted higher standards for new tank cars ordered after October 1, 2011, there are many rail cars in service that were built prior to that date and are still in service because of the high demand.

These older cars do not effectively contain the product when exposed to the stresses in derailments. Here are some links with information that emergency responders should consider when responding to a railway incident:

American Association of Railroads

U. S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration

Recent incidents:

Train’s brakes may have led to N.B. derailment, fire

Fiery North Dakota train derailment fuels oil-shipping fears


Lac-Megantic, Quebec

Officials: 30 missing in Quebec train crash presumed dead

Canada train derailment probe focuses on fire hours before Quebec disaster

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