National Transportation Safety Board: Fatal 2009 Canadian National wreck 'could have been averted'

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WASHINGTON — The National Transportation Safety Board pointed a finger squarely at Canadian National in a 2009 derailment that left a woman dead and injured seven. The washout-caused derailment near Rockford, Ill., resulted in tank cars carrying ethanol breaching and catching fire, which overcame a woman fleeing her car at an adjacent grade crossing.
 
“There were missteps and miscommunications, procedures not followed, and poor decisions,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, the board’s chairman. “There were multiple points where this catastrophe could have been averted, but it was not.”
 
The failures started, the board says, with CN’s failure to work with Winnebago County to develop a stormwater plan following washouts in 2006 and again in ’07. The railroad also failed to issue a flash-flood warning to the train’s crew.
 
But perhaps the most damning indictment involved CN’s response to the emergency. CN police failed to convey information about thefloods to the dispatch office. “CN police were unable to prevent the derailment even though adequate time was available for them to have done so,” the report finds.


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