Railcar Carrying 30 Tons of Explosive Chemical Pellets Reaches Destination Empty

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KQED reports that a train carrying 30 tons of explosive chemicals reached its destination and was completely empty.

On April 12th, 60,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate was loaded onto a train car in Cheyenne (Wyoming), which is used for explosives, fertilizers, and matches. The chemicals in this case belonged to Dyno Nobel – a commercial explosives company.

The railcar that was previously filled with chemicals, and made several stops during a two-week trip to California, was empty.

The explosives company reported the incident to the federal National Response Center in May, even though the shipment was lost in April. Dyno Nobel said that they suspect the chemicals may have fallen from the train car as it moved from the main track onto a rail siding. The shipment was in pellet form and transported in a covered railcar similar to those used to transport coal.

According to a spokesperson from the company, the railcar had been sealed before it left Cheyenne and was still intact upon arrival in Saltdale. Initial assessment indicates that the leak may have occurred in transit through the bottom gate of the railcar. Dyno Nobel stated that they had “limited control” while their shipment was being transported by Union Pacific.

According to a spokesperson from the Federal Railroad Administration, one of the gates in the hopper car may not have been properly closed.

The railcar will be returning to Wyoming for inspection. The Federal Railroad Administration is investigating the incident, as are the California Public Utilities Commission and Union Pacific.

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.