Thursday, July 2, 2015

Acrylonitrile Train Fire

The latest train accident involving chemicals occurred last night just after midnight CDT. As usual, early news reports (here, here, and here) are sketchy and contradictory. Apparently a train car carrying acrylonitrile is on fire outside of Maryville, TN. Local residents have been evacuated and some first responders may be in the hospital for exposure related problems.

I wouldn’t be mentioning this accident quite this early except for one interesting report via Good Morning America (ABC):

“Despite initial reports that train cars derailed, there was no derailment and the fire only involved one car, Blount County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Marian O’Briant said.”

It is VERY unusual for a moving rail car to catch fire without derailing.

In the case of acrylonitrile (and many other toxic chemicals) a burning railcar (if the fire can be limited to just that car) may actually be better than a leaking railcar. The combustion products would be the normal CO, CO2, NOx that, while not pleasant or safe, are much less hazardous than acrylonitrile.

I think that we may be watching the news on this accident for a while.

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