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Friday, March 06, 2015

UPDATE 3-Derailed U.S. oil train still burning; shipment delays expected

UPDATE 3-Derailed U.S. oil train still burning; shipment delays expected Fri, Mar 06 15:31 PM EST * 103 tanks with crude oil derailed in Illinois * Crash is third in as many weeks * U.S., Canada rail operators under pressure to improve safety (Adds details on train rerouting, FRA investigation) March 6 (Reuters) - The wreck of a derailed BNSF Railway train loaded with crude oil from North Dakota was still burning in Illinois on Friday, and the company warned that shipments along the line could be delayed up to 48 hours. Twenty-one tank cars came off the rails in an explosive accident near Galena on Thursday afternoon, and five were still on fire on Friday, local emergency and company officials said. In all, seven tank cars were damaged. The accident occurred in a rural area 164 miles west of Chicago, and no injuries were reported, BNSF said. Oil was leaking from some tank cars, but there was no evidence that it had reached a nearby river, said a spokeswoman for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. Officials from the Federal Railroad Administration will begin to investigate the scene Friday, said Galena City Administrator Mark Moran. Meanwhile, BNSF is rerouting trains on another line, he said. The incident is the latest in a series of derailments in North America and the third in three weeks involving trains hauling crude oil. This has heightened the focus on rail safety, particularly involving shipments of oil from North Dakota, whose high gas content makes it potentially more explosive. The accident's cause is unclear, but BNSF said the tank cars were the newer Casualty Prevention Circular 1232 cars widely regarded as better protected against damage than older ones. Regulators and operators have criticized the earlier DOT-111 cars for being prone to puncture. The CPC 1232's new safety specifications include a thicker tank, top-fitting protection and a pressure relief system. U.S. and Canadian authorities, under pressure to address the spate of fiery accidents, are seeking to phase out the older models. The U.S. Transportation Department has recommended that even these later models be updated with improved braking systems, thicker hulls and higher head shields. A boom in oil rail shipments across North America and resulting accidents have raised concerns over safety. In July 2013, 47 people were killed in the Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic after a train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded. The train in Thursday's accident was on a line commonly used to carry crude oil to Chicago before it heads to East Coast refineries. "Customers may experience delays of 24 to 48 hours on shipments moving through this corridor," BNSF said on its website. (Reporting by Jarret Renshaw, Edward McAllister and Catherine Ngai in New York, Henning Gloystein in Singapore and Kevin Jose in Bengaluru; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Jessica Resnick-Ault and Bernadette Baum)

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