NTSB Cites Broken Rail in 2015 Derailment in South Dakota; BNSF Says Changes Made

The National Transportation Safety Board has determined a broken rail probably caused the derailment of a train carrying ethanol two years ago in South Dakota.

The NTSB report says BNSF Railway’s decision to defer track maintenance and operate trains carrying flammable cargo likely caused the derailment and fire that cause more than $1 million damage. Nearly 50,000 gallons (189,000 liters) of denatured fuel ethanol was spilled and caught fire. No one was hurt.

The NTSB says also contributing to the accident was the Federal Railroad Administration’s track maintenance regulation that allowed hazardous flammable unit trains to operate on a track that was reclassified to a lower standard.

Seven cars of the BNSF train derailed Sept. 19, 2015, near Lesterville. A BNSF Railway spokeswoman says she hasn’t seen the report, but will respond later.

BNSF Railway says it’s using now an alternative route for moving hazardous material through parts of South Dakota.

BNSF spokeswoman Amy Beth said the railroad has also made investments in its infrastructure since the derailment near Lesterville.

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