Report Cites Operator Error in Alma Derailment - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Report Cites Operator Error in Alma Derailment

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Alma, WI (WXOW)

A new report cites crew fatigue as the likely cause of the train derailment in Alma in 2015 that spilled 20,000 gallons of ethanol into the backwaters of the Mississippi River.

The Federal Railroad Administration released the report Tuesday.

It concludes the engineer on the BNSF train applied brakes too quickly in violation of railroad guidelines.

25 cars jumped the tracks on November 17th of 2015 near Alma.

The quick application of the brakes can cause momentum at the rear of the train to push cars to the front of the train off the tracks.

Both the engineer and conductor had more than 13 hours of rest before beginning their shift, but according to the FRA's fatigue analysis, their fatigue level equates to the impairment someone with a blood alcohol level of point oh eight would have.

To emphasize; neither the conductor nor the engineer had any alcohol or drugs in their systems.

Neither were cited for violating any federal regulations. The report characterizes the accident as a mistake.

The 112 car freight train was traveling at 26 miles an hour when it derailed at 8:45 in the morning.

The train included 20 cars carrying hazardous materials, 15 of them carrying ethanol.

There were no injuries.

The cars spilled more than 20 thousand gallons of ethanol although the government has not documented any wildlife deaths directly related to the spill.

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