Minot Derailment Summary Report

Derailment of Canadian Pacific Railway
Freight Train 292-16 and Subsequent
Release of Anhydrous Ammonia Near
Minot, North Dakota
January 18, 2002

NTSB Number RAR-04/01
NTIS Number PB2004-916301

To read, or save to disk, the NTSB official 92 page report in PDF format:

Executive Summary:
At approximately 1:37 a.m. on January 18, 2002, eastbound Canadian Pacific Railway freight train 292-16, traveling about 41 mph, derailed 31 of its 112 cars about 1/2 mile west of the city limits of Minot, North Dakota. Five tank cars carrying anhydrous ammonia, a liquefied compressed gas, catastrophically ruptured, and a vapor plume covered the derailment site and surrounding area. The conductor and engineer were taken to the hospital for observation after they complained of breathing difficulties. About 11,600 people occupied the area affected by the vapor plume. One resident was fatally injured, and 60 to 65 residents of the neighborhood nearest the derailment site were rescued. As a result of the accident, 11 people sustained serious injuries, and 322 people, including the 2 train crewmembers, sustained minor injuries. Damages exceeded $2 million, and more than $8 million has been spent for environmental remediation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the derailment of Canadian Pacific Railway train 292-16 was an ineffective Canadian Pacific Railway inspection and maintenance program that did not identify and replace cracked joint bars before they completely fractured and led to the breaking of the rail at the joint. Contributing to the severity of the accident was the catastrophic failure of five tank cars and the instantaneous release of about 146,700 gallons of anhydrous ammonia.

The safety issues addressed in the report are:

The analysis also addresses the appropriateness of using shelter-in-place to protect the public from the release of hazardous material.

As a result of its investigation of this accident, the Safety Board makes safety recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration and the Canadian Pacific Railway.