NTSB determines probable cause of 2015 BNSF derailment


The probable cause of a BNSF Railway Co. ethanol train derailment two years ago in South Dakota was related to the railroad’s decision to defer track maintenance and continue operating high-hazard flammable unit trains on the Aberdeen subdivision, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced last week.

The incident occurred Sept. 19, 2015, when the train derailed at a small bridge near Lesterville, S.D. The train was hauling three locomotives, 96 loaded tank cars and two hopper cars filled with sand, according to the NTSB report.

Seven cars from the head of the train derailed. Two of the derailed cars breached and released 49,743 gallons of denatured fuel ethanol that caught fire. A third car leaked ethanol from its bottom outlet valve.

No one was injured and the accident did not require an evacuation. The cost of damage was estimated at $1.1 million.

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