[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 40 (Thursday, February 28, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Page 13747]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-04684]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Railroad Administration


Railroad Safety: Advisory Notice Related to Railroad Accidents in 
Vicinity of Underground Pipelines

AGENCY: Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Advisory Notice.

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SUMMARY: In response to Safety Recommendation R-12-04 issued by the 
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), FRA is issuing this 
Advisory Notice to inform railroads of the circumstances surrounding 
the June 19, 2009, derailment of eastbound Canadian National Railway 
(CN) Freight Train U70691-18 in Cherry Valley, IL, and to remind 
railroads of the need to immediately notify pipeline operators of rail 
accidents occurring in railroad rights-of-way where pipelines are 
present and the need to ensure that pipeline inspections are 
accomplished prior to resumption of service.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karl Alexy, Staff Director, Hazardous 
Materials Division, Office of Railroad Safety, FRA, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590; telephone: (202) 493-6245; or 
Karl.Alexy@dot.gov; or Elisabeth Galotto, Trial Attorney, Office of 
Chief Counsel, FRA, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590; 
telephone: (202) 493-0270; or Elisabeth.Galotto@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On June 19, 2009, at approximately 8:36 p.m. 
(CST), CN Freight Train U70691-18, traveling eastbound at 36 mph, 
derailed at a highway-rail grade crossing in Cherry Valley, IL. The 
train consisted of two locomotives and 114 cars, 19 of which derailed. 
All of the derailed cars were tank cars carrying denatured fuel 
ethanol, a flammable liquid. Thirteen of the derailed tank cars were 
breached or lost product and caught fire. At the time of the 
derailment, several motor vehicles were stopped on either side of the 
grade crossing waiting for the train to pass. As a result of the fire 
that erupted after the derailment, a passenger in one of the stopped 
cars was fatally injured, two passengers in the same car received 
serious injuries, and five occupants of other cars waiting at the 
highway-rail grade crossing were injured. Two responding firefighters 
also sustained minor injuries. The release of ethanol and the resulting 
fire prompted a mandatory evacuation of about 600 residences within a 
half-mile radius of the accident site.
    The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the accident was the 
washout of the track structure that was discovered about 1 hour before 
the train's arrival, and CN's failure to notify the train crew of the 
known washout in time to stop the train because of the inadequacy of 
CN's emergency communication procedures.
    At the derailment site was a 12-inch diameter underground natural 
gas transmission pipeline operated by Nicor Gas. The pipeline well 
exceeded Federal standards for protective ground cover. Yet, as the 
wreckage was removed from above the pipeline, Nicor's crews discovered 
that a railcar wheel and axle assembly had impacted the pipeline. 
Although the pipeline was buried about 11 feet deep and protected 
within a 16-inch diameter casing, the railcar wheels severely dented 
the pipeline. The impact caused a severe flattening of the pipe casing 
with sharp angular bends at two locations where the railcar wheel 
assembly contacted it. This degree of deformation to the 16-inch pipe 
casing likely caused similar damage to the 12-inch carrier pipe. The 
NTSB concluded that had the gas pipeline been installed at the railroad 
crossing with only the minimum level of ground cover permitted by the 
current Federal and industry pipeline construction standards, it likely 
would have failed as a result of being struck by derailed equipment in 
this accident. Accordingly, NTSB issued Safety Recommendation R-12-04 
recommending that FRA ``[i]nform railroads about the circumstances of 
the accident and advise them of the need to immediately notify pipeline 
operators of accidents occurring in railroad rights-of-way and ensure 
that pipeline inspections are accomplished prior to resumption of 
service.''
    On July 31, 2012, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety 
Administration (PHMSA) issued an advisory bulletin in the Federal 
Register (77 FR 45417-45418), encouraging pipeline owners and 
operators, as a part of their public awareness programs, to inform rail 
operators and emergency response officials of the benefits of using the 
811 ``Call Before You Dig'' program to identify and notify underground 
utilities that an incident has occurred in the vicinity of their buried 
facilities.
    Like PHMSA, FRA encourages railroads to use the 811 ``Call Before 
You Dig'' program to notify pipeline operators of rail accidents 
occurring in railroad rights-of-way where pipelines are present and to 
ensure that pipeline inspections are accomplished prior to resumption 
of service. By calling 811, pipeline owners and operators will be 
notified of potential problems the accident may have caused to the 
pipeline, and enable the pipeline owners and operators to work with the 
involved railroads to prevent further injury to individuals cleaning up 
the accident site.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on February 25, 2013.
Robert C. Lauby,
Deputy Associate Administrator for Regulatory and Legislative 
Operations.
[FR Doc. 2013-04684 Filed 2-27-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-06-P