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"Overlooking Runway 25 - Right, at Los Angeles International Airport"

"Training For Disaster At Wild River"

Feature Date: August 29 2010

Event Date: May 12 2010

BNSF Locomotive No. 4702

Countryman & McDaniel

 The Air & Ocean Logistics- Customs Broker & Hull Attorneys

International Trade Consultants

"Overlooking Runway 25 - Right, at Los Angeles International Airport"

On The Scene -- In Wild River Canyon, Wyoming

 A 2010 Countryman & McDaniel

Cargo Nightmare Prize Contender

Our Contributor for this feature:

Rich. Bause

Special Mention

Vincinent Zauss - Former Director of Engineering, General Motors Electromotive Division

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A Cargo Nightmare Prize Contender

The Date: May 12 2010

The Time: 12:30 pm

The Place: In Wind River Canyon, Wyoming

The Cargo: Rail Cars


"Training For Disaster At Wild River"

BNSF Locomotive No. 4702

On The Scene In Wind River Canyon

May 12 - 10 2010


The Mighty Locomotive No. 4702 In Better Days . Future Days?

Model C44--9W - Serial # 50085

The Prologue To Disaster -- Wind River Canyon

Today, even with competition from cars, trucks, airlines & pipelines, U.S. railroads carry 26.5 million passengers a year and move 2.4 billion tons of freight.

Above is pictured BNSF Locomotive No. 4702. Model C44--9W - Serial # 50085. This is perhaps the most powerful emblem of the American rail, or any world rail line.

But it is the small details which make the difference in our transportation industry. For this story -- a boulder -- which can derail the entire enterprise.

There had been heavy rains in Wyoming's Wind River Canyon -- so the Burlington, Northern & Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) ran high rail vehicles down the canyon to scout for debris. The way was clear.

So an hour later when BNSF Locomotive # 4702 was headed down Wyoming's Wind River Canyon with 62 rail cars on May 12 2010 .... imagine the surprise when a boulder estimated to be about 8 feet across and 6 feet high .... loomed ahead in the engineer's window!

"Ship Happens!"

Michael S. McDaniel - Your Editor

Wind River Canyon Is At Center, Left of Map -- Our Story Takes Place There

Wyoming Holds A Surprising Variety of Interesting Places, From Wild West Cow towns To The Wide Open Spaces of The Great Plains.

The Least Populated of The 50 States, Wyoming Has More Wide-Open Space Than Just About Anywhere Wlse.

Locomotive No. 4702 Trailing Fuel At The Bottom of Wind River Canyon. A Dramatic Crash For Two Locomotives & 62 Rail Cars.

One Boulder Derailed The Entire Enterprise.

Locomotive No. 4702 Derailed By A Boulder, But The Crew Is Safe.

A BNSF High-Rail Vehicle Had Just Inspected The Canyon, But The Boulder Had Not Come Down At That Point

From The Cargo Letter, May 12 2010

A BNSF Railway freight train hit a large boulder in Wind River Canyon on May 12 afternoon and slid down a 50-foot embankment into the river, spilling some diesel but causing no injuries.

The train's two-man crew was able to escape and swim to safety.

Containment crews were using booms in an attempt to keep contaminated water out of the nearby village of Thermopolis water supply.

The southbound train derailed around 12:30 p.m. while traveling on the single mainline track in the scenic canyon. The incident occurred about six miles south of Thermopolis, at the north end of the canyon.

The train was traveling at an estimated 30 mph when it hit the pickup-truck-sized boulder.

Wyoming Highway Patrol officials said a trooper patrolling U.S. Highway 20/Wyoming Highway 789 in the canyon witnessed the collision and derailment from the road across the river.

The train included two locomotives in front, 62 cars and a rear locomotive. The train originated in Laurel and was hauling general freight, including paper products and lumber, to Denver. Of the 65 cars, 45 were loaded and 17 were empty. One car filled with aggregate rock and bentonite also derailed, along with two other empty cars. Some of the rock also spilled into the river.

The lead Locomotive No. 4702 wound up partially submerged in the river while the second locomotive stopped on the face of the embankment.

The crew members were on the river bank "walking and talking" after escaping through the locomotive's engineer's door. The pair were taken to a local hospital for observation. Both crew members are from Greybull, but he couldn't release their names.

The accident followed a heavy spring storm in the area May 11 night and May 12 morning that dropped about 10 inches of snow in the mountains around Thermopolis, according to the National Weather Service.

The railroad had been running patrols for the previous 48 hours on the canyon rail line using high-rail vehicles &emdash; a truck with special wheels allowing it to run on the track &emdash; watching for rock slides.

"Apparently, a high-rail vehicle had just passed through and conditions then showed the rock had not come down at that point," a spokesman said.

The company was moving cleanup equipment to the site. "We're developing a plan to cable up the locomotives back onto the track and a removal plan once that's done," the BNSF said.

Some diesel fuel spilled from the tank of Locomotive No. 4702 that overturned on the embankment. The engine carries 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel.

"There was also a visible sheen on the river ... and we're utilizing BNSF hazardous material equipment, along with local hazmat emergency environmental response material and personnel, to clean that up,"BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas said.

"There are booms being placed around the water supply at Thermopolis and also down river ... and we're developing a remediation plan" for the diesel spill, he said.

Other train traffic scheduled to come through the canyon May 12 was rerouted.

The town of Thermopolis had shut down its municipal water system intakes from the river because of the diesel spill.

The Highway Patrol said in a media release that Trooper Sam Donahue was traveling on the highway in the canyon when he noticed the huge rock resting on the rail line. Donahue estimated the rock to be about 8 feet across and 6 feet high.

Donahue said he notified dispatchers, who in turn were on the phone notifying railroad officials when the southbound train struck the rock.

A Section of The Second Locomotive Has Been Torn Away

The Accident Followed A Heavy Spring Storm In The Area May 11 Night And May 12 Morning

Locomotive No. 4702 Was Traveling At An Estimated 30 mph When It Hit The Pickup-Truck-Sized Boulder Without Warning

Video of Wind River Canyon Incident

It Could Have Been Worse As Only A Few Cars Are Affected

We Hope These Shippers Had High Quality Cargo Insurance.

The Railroads Greatly Limit Their Liability For Cargo Loss & Damage.

BNSF Crews Survey The Rescue of Locomotive No. 4702

Photo © 2010 Keith A. Alderman

All The King's Horses & All The King's Men ......

Eight Heavy Units Prepare to Rescue Locomotive No. 4702. The Effort Was Successful!

Locomotive No. 4702 Is Today Back On the BNSF Rail Active List -- Hauling America's Goods!

Photo © 2010 Keith A. Alderman

Reader Note - - October 16 2010

In this photo gallery item you have a shot of 8 sideboom "Cats" hauling up a locomotive. Credit should be given to the companies who did this work: "Hulcher Professional Services" and "R. J. Corman Railroad Services".

Hulcher developed the sideboom technology to re-rail train wrecks. Both firms rarely get the credit that they deserve for clearing train wrecks and getting the mainline open again. Not to mention that their work is also quite dangerous. I spent several days following a Hulcher crew around in the early 1990's. There's no way that I'd do that work. But what re-railing crews do in clearing huge wrecks in a matter of hours is stunning and amazing.

Jim Zeirke. Wisconsin/Illinois/Michigan/Missouri/Ohio Manager, Field Reporters For Hire

Locomotive No. 4702 Is Today Back On the BNSF Rail Active List -- Hauling America's Goods!

These U.S. Locomotives Are Tough, Durable And Built For More Than Just A Slide Down Wind River Canyon!

Editor Note
Every time there is a rail incident, my thoughts are drawn to our family expert on the subject. Many folks these days claim to be expert court witnesses on one subject or another, but there are truly few who have earned that title.

As she roars down the tracks, Locomotive No. 4702 carries at least two U.S. Patents granted to my Father-In-Law, Vincent Zauss, former Director of Engineering, General Motors Electromotive Division. Until General Electric entered the market in recent years, General Motors Electromotive Division was the singular world leader in production of diesel locomotives.

After a distinguished career with General Motors Electromotive Division, Vincent Zauss went on to tackle the daunting task of redesigning the entire South African railroad system -- across Savannahs, trackless deserts, canyons & wet lands. My Dad is truly a railroad man. Vincent Zauss is a veteran U.S. Navy officer in World War II with much action In The Med & North Atlantic. Dad is my hero.

While my family railroading history is actually deeper than this, suffice to say, I have a personal tie when "Ship Happens! ©" to locomotives.


From Our Reader

That's a real shame. It's a beautiful canyon with the river cutting through 600 million years of rock layers. I once drove tankers through there and it's one of my favorite places.

But it's the Wind River, not the Wild River.

Richard Warg - California Correctional Peace Officers Association

Editor Note

Thanks Roger. We got it right in the story, but not on the captions. "Wild River" is the story name, but "Wind River" is the place, as now made clear.

From Our Reader

In this photo gallery item you have a shot of 8 sideboom "Cats" hauling up a locomotive. Credit should be given to the companies who did this work: "Hulcher Professional Services" and "R. J. Corman Railroad Services". Hulcher developed the sideboom technology to re-rail train wrecks. Both firms rarely get the credit that they deserve for clearing train wrecks and getting the mainline open again. Not to mention that their work is also quite dangerous. I spent several days following a Hulcher crew around in the early 1990's. There's no way that I'd do that work. But what re-railing crews do in clearing huge wrecks in a matter of hours is stunning and amazing.
Jim Zeirke - Wisconsin/Illinois/Michigan/Missouri/Ohio Manager - Field Reporters For Hire - 262-366-7708
Shippers Must Have Quality Marine Cargo Insurance ........ Because......... "Ship Happens! ©"

To Repeat -- No Matter How Careful You Are -- Or Who You Hire ....... "Ship Happens! ©"

Get Your "Ship Happens! ©" Gear!

Visit The Cargo Law Ship's Store For Great Industry Gift Ideas!

The Dedication of This Feature Is Simple: To America's Railroad Crews and Their Families.

SPECIAL NOTE: The historic dangers of carriage by land, air & sea continue to be quite real. Shippers must be encouraged to purchase high quality marine cargo insurance from their freight forwarder or customs broker

It's very dangerous out there.

INDEX TO OUR "Training For Disaster At Wild River" PAGE SPECIAL FEATURES:

Important Links To Our Feature:
Electromotive Division of General Motors


Our Daily Vessel Casualties - stay informed

"Singles Only" - visit our individual moments of transport crisis for more.

The Greatest Container Losses Of All Time - these are the grand fathers -

M/V OOCL America

M/V APL China

M/V APL Panama - The EPIC

"Great Misfortune"- M/V Hyundai Fortune - March 2006

SPECIAL NOTE: The historic dangers of carriage by sea continue to be quite real. Shippers must be encouraged to purchase high quality marine cargo insurance from their freight forwarder or customs broker. 

It's very dangerous out there.

Thanks To Our Contributors For The "Training For Disaster At Wild River" Feature

Our Contributors for this feature are:
Rich. Bause
The Cargo Letter appreciates the continuing efforts of these valued contributors.

NOTE: Please Provide Us With Your Additional Information For This Loss.

EDITOR'S NOTE FOR SURVEYORS, ATTORNEYS & MARINE ADJUSTERS: The Internet edition effort of The Cargo Letter now celebrates it's 8th Year of Service -- making us quite senior in this segment of the industry. We once estimated container underway losses at about 1,500 per year. Lloyd's put that figure at about 10,000 earlier this year. Quite obviously, the reporting mechanism for these massive losses is not supported by the lines. News of these events is not posted to the maritime community. Our new project is to call upon you -- those handling the claims -- to let us know of each container loss at sea-- in confidentiality. Many of you survey on behalf of cargo interests with no need for confidentiality. Others work for the lines & need to be protected. As a respected Int'l publication, The Cargo Letter enjoys full press privileges & cannot be forced to disclose our sources of information. No successful attempt has ever been made. If a personal notation for your report is desired -- each contributor will be given a "hot link" to your company Website in each & every report. Please take moment & report your "overside" containers to us. If you do not wish attribution, your entry will be "anonymous." This will will benefit our industry -- for obvious reasons! McD

* NOTE: The Cargo Letter wants you to know that by keeping the identity of our contributors 100% Confidential, you are able to view our continuing series of "Cargo Disasters." Our friends send us materials which benefit the industry. The materials are provided to our news publication with complete and enforceable confidentiality for the sender. In turn, we provide these materials to you.  

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