Cracked Tank Shell Eyed as Leading Cause of W.Va. Rail Tank Car Clorine Leak Last August

The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary finding that a cracked tank shell was the leading cause of a chlorine-gas tank car leak at a West Virginia chemical facility in August.

NTSBThe NTSB said the DOT-105-type tank car experienced a sudden tank shell crack shortly after being filled with liquefied compressed chlorine at a Axiall Corporation railcar loading facility in New Martinsville.

The 90 tons of chlorine began leaking two hours after the crack developed, forming a cloud that drifted from the railcar facility located on the Ohio River.

Five Axiall employees and three contractors were treated for exposure to the toxic gas and plants and trees in the cloud’s path were damaged.

The NTSB report said the car in question was built in 1981 by ACF Industries and had a water capacity of 17,380 gallons.

The type of ACF-manufactured under frame on the car had been identified by the Federal Railroad Administration as being linked to developing cracks and shell buckling.

A five-year inspection conducted on the car in January 2016 by Rescar, a railcar maintenance and leasing company, found numerous corrosion pits in the bottom section of the tank shell.

Repair work done on the car at that time included interior cleaning, ultrasonic thickness testing, removing internal corrosion, welds buildup, and post-weld stress-relief heat treatments.

Following the leak, investigators determined that the car had experienced buckling in the tank shell between the end of the stub sill reinforcing tab and other adjacent weld spots.

Other areas of repair to the tank car shell measured below the minimum allowed thickness of 0.748 inch.

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