Jumbo Tank Cars Criticized
The 15,000 uninsulated jumbo tank cars that have been put into service on railroads in recent years were criticized by the National Transportation Safety Board as potential elements for “community-size disasters.”
These tankers, the board declared, have replaced many smaller insulated cars that have “a much lesser potential for catastrophic community damage.” The board said that the jumbo tankers, holding 30,000 gallons, were put in service “without fullscale testing” and the testing has been done through usage, which has resulted in “heavy loss to the public and fire fighters.”
The criticism was leveled in a report of the board’s investigation of a railroad derailment near Oneonta, N.Y., February 12, 1974. Seven of the derailed cars were jumbo tankers loaded with liquefied petroleum gas. The explosion during a fire injured 54 fire fighters and newsmen.
The board charged that the jumbo tanker accident loss has been borne by the public and recommended that the Federal Railroad Administration expedite rulemaking to “eliminate or reduce to manageable dimensions the severity of the possible losses to communities” caused by jumbo tankers carrying hazardous materials. The safety board also recommended that the FRA require railroads to give crewmen on both the locomotive and the caboose information identifying hazardous materials on a train.