Orthez english summary
At 18:14 on 24 November 2009 two tanker wagons on a train full of dangerous substances (train 84892), travelling between Bayonne and Lacq derailed at low speed in the Orthez (Pyrénées Atlantiques) urban area, just before the station.
The first of these wagons, in 26th position and loaded with propane, keeled over, damaging its emptying systems and causing a leak of the product.
The second, in 27th and last position, remained standing and suffered no significant damage.
The fire service was alerted at 18:19. They were on the site at 18:23. Noting the leak they set up a safety perimeter covering an area of 500m, with the help of the police. As the leak was not very big the houses and the hospital close to the site of the accident were not evacuated but people were confined to the buildings until the leak was sealed.
The leak was sealed at about 20:15.
In view of the risk of the tank leaking or breaking if the loaded wagon was raised the firemen asked for it to be stripped in situ. Then, in view of stripping difficulties it was decided to set up a flare stack to burn the wagon’s entire load. The flaring operations lasted until Saturday 28.
There were no casualties.
The investigation showed that the derailment was due to a number of factors linked to the track, the rolling stock and the wheel-rail interface respectively.
This analysis led to one recommendation concerning the track, three recommendations concerning maintenance of rolling stock and one recommendation concerning the greasing of rails.
In addition, this derailment exposed the occupants of the passenger train behind to risks related to the propane leak.
This observation led to three recommendations on railway protection measures to be taken in similar cases.