Forensic Analysis Of An Overheated Railway Tank Car


  • Michael M. Sampsel



Rail incident, anhydrous ammonia


This Paper Presents The Technique Of An Engineering Analysis Of A Railway Tank Car Anhydrous Ammonia Leak. The Tank Car Had Been Sitting In The Open For Several Days In A Semi-Arid, Desert Like Region Of The Southwestern United States. Introduction Approximately Two Years After An Oklahoma Chemical Plant Had Shipped A 32,000 Gallon Railway Tank Car Of Anhydrous Ammonia, It Was Informed That It Had Been Named In A Lawsuit. The Tank Car Had Apparently Leaked Some Unknown Amount Of The Anhydrous Ammonia, Classified As A Hazardous Material, While Parked On A Rail Siding In El Centro, California, In September 1989. The Dark Colored Car Had Been Sitting On A Rail Siding For 15 Days Awaiting Delivery To Its Final Destination Near El Centro. The Area Is A Semi-Arid Agricultural Region In Southern California, Approximately 70 Miles Inland From The Coast And San Diego. A Well Known Defense Attorney In San Diego, California, Began Evaluating The Case And Assembling A Defense Team. Ultimately The Defense Team Would Consist Of Several Medical Experts, A Mechanical Engineer, An Industrial Hygienist, A Department Of Transportation Regulatory Expert, And A Meteorologist. The Team Started Work In May 1995. This Paper Will Cover Only The Mechanical Engineering Analysis Issues Involved In The Litigation.



How to Cite

Sampsel, Michael M. 2003. “Forensic Analysis Of An Overheated Railway Tank Car”. Journal of the National Academy of Forensic Engineers 20 (1).




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