Meteorology and Physics Analysis of Rail Car Fatality




borax, Rail car, Precipitation, shipping, ocean transport, rail transport, truck transport, center of gravity, lean angle, turning moments, suspension stiffness, forensic engineering


When borax gets wet, it clumps. In this case, 76,000 pounds of previously wetted borax clumped on the inside of a rail car. The unbalanced load caused the rail car to fall on a yard worker, killing him. Tracking meteorological conditions in transit from Turkey to a port in Deleware, truck transit to a warehouse, handling at the warehouse, and rail transit to an interim transfer station was key to developing the origin and cause for the rail car derailing. There was evidence that clumping had rendered the product unusable by the end-user. However, this event occurred at the interim transfer station where the rail car product was transferred to trucks. This paper describes the process of determining how and where the borax absorbed moisture and shows physics that determined derailing was the result of an unbalanced load. This demonstrates the cause and effect of this event.


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How to Cite

Peake, Drew, and Muhammad Salman. 2023. “Meteorology and Physics Analysis of Rail Car Fatality”. Journal of the National Academy of Forensic Engineers 39 (2).