NTSB Says Landslide Caused CSX Derailment

A landslide has been determined to have caused a February derailment on the CSX Kingsport Subdivision in Kentucky that spilled denatured ethanol.

In a preliminary report, the National Transportation Safety Board said it will examine hillside slide detection and weather alerts, and the performance of DOT-111A, DOT-117 and DOT-117R tank cars in this and other accidents.

The agency said its probe will review the positioning of different tank car types in train consists.

The early morning derailment on Feb. 13 left the train’s engineer and conductor with minor injuries.

The train had three locomotives, two buffer cars and 96 loaded tank cars when it derailed in Draffin, Kentucky, along the Russell Fork River.

Two of the four derailed tank cars spilled 38,400 gallons of ethanol. An ensuring fire engulfed the locomotives and second and third tank cars.

All three locomotives and one buffer car also derailed.

The NTSB report noted that the area had received heavy rain and a landslide covered the tracks with debris.

The train crew reported the debris was as high as the nose of the lead locomotive.

The engineer said sight distances were around five car lengths due to rain, fog, curves and darkness.

The train had been traveling about 25 mph, which the NTSB said was within the operational speed of the tracks, which were not equipped with a positive train control system.

The train crew escaped their burning locomotive by jumping into the river. Six to 10 homes in the area were evacuated.

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