NTSB makes recommendations to reduce risk to people from toxic gas rail cargo

Published 30 November 2005

The National Transportation Safety Board released recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration based on its investigation of a train crash in Graniteville, South Carolina on 6 January, 2005 that resulted in the release of chlorine gas from a tanker car. The toxic plume that escaped the punctured train car killed nine people, injured 250, and required the evacuation of another 5,400. Observers have long noted that rail transportation of hazardous materials is not sufficiently protected against accidents or intentional incidents that might result in damage or death.

The NTSB’s report concludes, among other things, that trains carrying chlorine, anhydrous ammonia, and other liquefied gases designated as poisonous by inhalation should position tank cars toward the rear of trains and reduce speed through populated areas. Rail lines should also provide emergency escape breathing apparatus for crew members on freight trains with hazardous materials that pose an inhalation hazard.

-read the NTSB release here, and a Washington Post report here