Pressurized gas vapours will be one focus of a U.S. Department of Transportation investigation into the fiery derailment of an oil train at Mount Carbon, West Virginia last week.
“Questioning the possible role of gas vapours in the West Virginia fire broadens the debate over how to ensure public safety at a time when drastically larger volumes of crude oil are being shipped by rail and roll through cities and towns,” Reuters reports.
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“Some experts say the nature of the explosion, which saw a dense cloud of smoke and flame soaring upwards, could be explained by the presence of highly pressurized gas trapped in crude oil moving in the rail cars.”
The American Petroleum Institute and the North Dakota Petroleum Council, representing the state where the West Virginia cargo originated, “have argued that the dangers of vapour pressure are exaggerated, citing self-funded studies,” Rucker writes. But André Lemieux of the Canadian Crude Quality Technical Association acknowledged that “vapour pressure could be a factor.”
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