Federal agency investigating Perris railcar chemical leak – San Bernardino Sun

The Federal Railroad Administration is investigating the leak of a highly flammable chemical from a railcar in Perris on Aug. 11 that prompted the evacuation of a neighborhood and the closure of the 215 Freeway in the area for about 24 hours.

The tanker had been sitting on the siding near the intersection of Oleander and Harvill avenues since Aug. 3, Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department said, after being delivered from Texas. At some point, the styrene overheated and leaked, and some people reported seeing a plume of smoke. Officials feared the railcar would explode, and a few people reported being sickened, although it was unclear whether their symptoms were related to the leak.

Firefighters were eventually able to connect hoses to the railcar and cool its contents.

The federal probe, involving the agency’s Hazardous Materials Division, will “cover the preparation and loading of the material into the railcar, the transportation of the railcar from origin to destination, and the unloading of the material by the consignee,” agency spokesman Warren Flatau said in an email. “If necessary, we will also look into issues related to the construction and maintenance of the (tank car) and its (valves and fittings).”

A report is expected to be completed in about three months, Flatau said, and a summary will be shared with the public.

Cal Fire officials said the railcar was loaded in Texas 50 days before the leak, and Battalion Chief Mark Scoville II said he was told that the substance needed to be offloaded within 45 days. Cal Fire officials, after consulting with experts, theorized that a stabilizing chemical injected to prevent the styrene from heating up failed, resulting in a chemical reaction that caused the styrene to cook to more than 300 degrees. It usually sits at about 85 degrees.

BNSF railroad hauled the railcar. A different company owns the railcar and yet another company owns the styrene, but officials so far have not publicly identified those firms. BNSF delivered the railcar a week before the leak was detected, which would have been within the 45-day period, spokeswoman Lena Kent said.

The Federal Railroad Administration does regulatory oversight and enforcement of regulations governing tracks, signals, operating practices, crossings, railcars and hazardous materials, Flatau said.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *