Contra Costa Times: BNSF says toppled train car does not indicate wider safety problem

BNSF says toppled train car does not indicate wider safety problem
Photo submitted by a Richmond Standard reader

The Contra Costa Times offered more information Wednesday on the derailment of a train car in Richmond on Friday that unnerved residents who are worried over shipments of volatile crude oil.

A concerned reader emailed to the Richmond Standard on Tuesday a cellphone photo (as seen above) of the toppled train car west of Richmond Parkway near Pennsylvania Avenue. We called around and discovered BNSF Railway had not notified the public about the incident. The Richmond Police Department found out about it Sunday when BNSF reported that trespassers were breaking into the train car.

We haven’t heard back from BNSF, but a company spokesperson spoke with the Times Wednesday.

The train car, being pulled by a locomotive, was going less than 10 mph through the yard and was carrying refrigerated pork when it tipped over, spokesperson Lena Kent told the newspaper. Kent called the incident minor and not an indication of a wider safety problem regarding the hauling of hazardous materials.

“We operate all of our trains with safety as our first priority,” Kent told the Times. “However, when it comes to hazardous material we do have more restrictive operating procedures.”

BNSF officials are apparently also developing “more resilient” cars for crude oil, according to Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, who told the Times he believes that indicates an increase in crude-by-rail shipments in the future as oil extraction increases in Northern America.