These freight cars were recently spotted somewhere in North America. Note especially the “hot” in ammonium nitrate!

ammonium nitrate

hydrogen peroxide

I can’t see the need for a trail derailment emergency plan. If it crashes it CRASHES.

To answer my own question: Not in this life. You?

 

10 Responses to Would you drive this train?

  1. Chemjobber says:

    I can’t get very excited about this, but maybe it’s because I live close to railroad tracks and love tracking UN numbers… and my brain’s been deadened to the potential risk.

  2. milkshake says:

    I can’t get too excited either, the ammonium nitrate is probably in the form of a highly concentrated aqueous solution (90%) that is kept warm to prevent crystallization. It is not shock sensitive – solid AN is much bigger problem. Oxidizer without fuel – not much trouble. The tanker trains full of crude oil from fracking are far bigger problem, shale oil has low ignition temperature, few places already burned to the ground after oil train derailment.

    Here in Florida (east of Tampa) are huge phosphate surface mines, they use sulfuric acid to turn Ca-phosphate into phosphoric acid, and since it is cheaper/easier for them to manufacture sulfuric acid on site from elemental sulfur, they transport it in – with giant truck cisterns full of molten sulfur on two-line state highway, hundreds of tons every day… I got stuck in a column of cars behind the molten sulfur few times, in Friday night traffic rush…

  3. drfreddy says:

    Oh, and this. Trains run on diesel. So, in the event of a little mishap, ammonium nitrate and diesel could mix. And there’s your ANFO. Sweet. Good luck to the first responders.

  4. Hap says:

    I’d assume the vegetation around the accident site might work, no? It’s not fuel oil, but it’ll burn. On the other hand, I thought most of the accidents with ammonium nitrate were with it in solid form in higher concentration.

    I was a little disconcerted by the train near my house carrying dimethyl sulfate. If it’s a war gas, I’m not sure how comfortable I feel with lots of it in the vicinity, and first responders will have a field (funeral) day.

  5. Dangerous Bill says:

    I suspect it’s shipped as a solution in order to avoid dangers of explosion. It requires mixing with fuel, confinement, and concussive ignition before it’s about to blow anything up.

    I imagine the car is labeled so it won’t be inadvertently be used for something incompatible.

    Cars full of liquid chlorine bother me a lot more.

    • drfreddy says:

      Regarding chlorine. There was this little mishap a decade ago, give or take a few years, here in central Stockholm at a public swimming pool complex. They were supposed to add more bleach (sodium hypochlorite) early in the morning, but the truck came loaded with phosphoric acid instead. Which they started pouring in, in metric ton scale. A large area had to be emergency evacuated, and yellow smoke was seen kilometers away. Luckily and surprisingly, there were no fatalities, but I can imagine however was responsible had a little explaining to do.

  6. milkshake says:

    what is truly scary as hell is rail car cisterns filled with liquid ethylene oxide. This stuff is highly explosive in any ratio with air (it is favorite fuel in thermobaric weapons), it burns also without oxygen, is as toxic to breath as chlorine gas but nearly odorless (faint sweet odor). It has been also used as monopropellant. Contamination of the tanker car can set off delayed, highly exothermic polymerization.

    Please see the page 2:
    http://www.dow.com/transcaertours/pdf/Resource_Ethylene_Oxide.pdf

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