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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation I-81-002
Details
Synopsis: ON APRIL 3, 1980, A BOSTON AND MAINE CORPORATION (BM) BOSTON SWITCHER (1740) CONSISTING OF A LOCOMOTIVE AND 38 CARS COLLIDED, WHILE MOVING AT A SPEED OF 4 MPH, WITH A STANDING DRAFT OF CARS IN SOMERVILLE YARD 8 AT SOMERVILLE, MASSACHUSETTS. THE LOCOMOTIVE STRUCK AND PUNCTURED TANK CAR TLDX 113009, THE SECOND CAR OF THE STADING DRAFT; THE TANK CAR CONTAINED ABOUT 13,000 GALLONS OF PHOSPHORUS TRICHLORIDE (PC13), A HAZARDOUS MATERIAL CLASSIFIED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (DOT) AS A CORROSIVE LIQUID. THE PRODUCT SPILLED ONTO THE MOIST GROUND AND CREATED A CLOUD, WHICH ULTIMATELY NECESSITATED AN EVACUATION OF A 1 1/2 SQUARE MILE AREA CONTAINING 23,000 PEOPLE. DURING THE FIRST 48 HOURS OF THE EMERGENCY, 418 PERSONS WERE TREATED AT THE SOMERVILLE HOSPITAL. DAMAGE TO TRAIN EQUIPMENT AMOUNTED TO $8,100 AND CLEANUP COSTS WERE REPORTED TO BE $130,253.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: REVISE THE ADVICE PROVIDED IN THE 1980 DOT EMERGENCY RESPONSE GUIDEBOOK CONCERNING PHOSPHORUS TRICHLORIDE TO CLARIFY THE AMBIGUOUS LANGUAGE ON THE USE OF WATER IN HANDLING LARGE SPILLS.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Intermodal
Location: Somerville, MA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: 80175
Accident Reports: ​Phosphorus Trichloride Release in Boston and Maine Yard During Switching Operations
Report #: HZM-81-01
Accident Date: 4/3/1980
Issue Date: 3/12/1981
Date Closed: 10/16/1987
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: RSPA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Hazmat

Safety Recommendation History
From: RSPA
To: NTSB
Date: 10/16/1987
Response:

From: NTSB
To: RSPA
Date: 8/11/1982
Response:

From: RSPA
To: NTSB
Date: 7/6/1982
Response: DOT (RSPA) LTR: CONCERNING RECOMMENDATION I-81-2, WE CAN ASSURE YOU THAT THE ISSUE OF THE USE OF WATER IN PHOSPHOROUS TRICHLORIDE ACCIDENTS HAS BEEN CONSIDERED BY THE REVIEW GROUP, AND IT WILL CLARIFY THE CURRENT LANGUAGE IN THE DOT GUIDEBOOK CONCERNING ITS USE.

From: NTSB
To: RSPA
Date: 4/26/1982
Response:

From: RSPA
To: NTSB
Date: 12/4/1981
Response: RSPA LTR: NTSB COMMENTS PERTAINING TO THE USE OF THE PHRASE "FLOODING WITH WATER" WHEN USED WITH PHOSPHORUS TRICHLORIDE WILL BE CONSIDERED DURING THE REVIEW. THE DOT EMERGENCY RESPONSE GUIDEBOOK IS GENERIC IN NATURE AND IS DESIGNED FOR USE BY FIRST RESPONDERS TO A HAZARDOUS MATERIALS INCIDENT. THE GUIDELINES ARE INTENDED TO ADDRESS ONLY THE INITIAL PHASES OF AN EMERGENCY; THEREFORE, WE INTEND TO REMOVE INSTRUCTIONS THAT DO NOT RELATE TO INITIAL PHASE (E.G., THE WORDS "...AND DILUTE WITH LARGE AMOUNTS OF WATER." FOLLOWING "DIKE FOR LATER DISPOSAL..."). MORE DETAILED KNOWLEDGE OF THE NATURE OF THE HAZARDS ASSOCIATED WITH THE COMMODITY RELEASE AND THE APPROPRIATE RESPONSE INCLUDING CLEANUP, SHOULD BE OBTAINED FROM EXPERT SOURCES--NOT THE EMERGENCY RESPONSE GUIDEBOOK.