A railway carrying 30 tons of explosive chemicals arrived at its final destination empty, according to KQED.
The train car was loaded in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on April 12 with 60,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate, which is often used to make explosives, matches, and fertilizers. In this instance, the chemicals on the train car belonged to Dyno Nobel, a commercial explosives firm.
After a two-week-long trip to California that made several stops, the railcar previously loaded with the chemicals was found empty.
While the shipment went missing in April, the explosives company filed a short incident report to the federal National Response Center on May 10. Dyno Nobel stated that it suspects the chemicals fell from the train car when moving from the main track to a rail siding. It added that the shipment was transported in pellet form in a covered hopper railcar, similar to cars used to haul coal.
A spokesperson for the company told KQED, “The railcar was sealed when it left the Cheyenne facility, and the seals were still intact when it arrived in Saltdale. The initial assessment is that a leak through the bottom gate on the railcar may have developed in transit.” Dyno Nobel noted that it had “limited control” over its shipment while it was transported by Union Pacific.
A spokesperson for the Federal Railroad Administration believes that one of the gates on the hopper car may not have been closed properly.
The railcar is on its way back to Wyoming to be inspected. The incident is being investigated by the Federal Railroad Administration, the California Public Utilities Commission, Union Pacific, and Dyno Nobel.
On Thursday, Dyno Nobel announced that it had been awarded the Union Pacific Railroad’s 2022 Chemical Transportation Safety Pinnacle Award.
“This award recognizes companies with zero Non-Accident Releases for shipments of regulated hazardous material moving in tank cars in 2022,” the firm wrote on its Twitter account.
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