We’ve seen a few concerning train stories under the Biden administration and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, including the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio that caused environmental damage in the town. Despite Joe Biden making a bizarre comment and then saying he would go, he has yet to visit the town. The administration hasn’t exactly inspired a lot of confidence with the way they have been handling things and they’ve caught a lot of justifiable flak for their delayed and deficient reaction to the disaster.
Now add to that a truly weird story on their watch.
About 30 tons — or 60,000 pounds — of ammonium nitrate went missing from a rail car during transit.
If ammonium nitrate sounds familiar, it should. It’s a fertilizer. But it also can be used as an explosive if it’s subjected to a fuel source or subjected to heat. That’s why it’s been involved in the past in explosive accidents as well as in intentional attacks such as at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, a bombing that killed 168 people and injured 850. That explosion only used roughly 5,000 pounds and it was mixed with motor fuel, then detonated in the parking garage — thus the reason 60,000 pounds going missing is raising a lot of eyebrows. That could do a heck of a lot of damage in the wrong hands.
The ammonium nitrate was being shipped from Cheyenne, Wyoming to California. It left Cheyenne on April 12. But the company shipping it, Dyno Nobel, said when it arrived two weeks later, the car holding the ammonium nitrate was empty.
Four separate investigations have since been launched.
The company was shipping the ammonium nitrate in pellet form and believes it may have begun falling out of the rail car at some point during the trip, a Dyno Nobel spokesman told KQED.
“The railcar was sealed when it left the Cheyenne facility, and the seals were still intact when it arrived in Saltdale [Calif.]. The initial assessment is that a leak through the bottom gate on the railcar may have developed in transit,” the spokesperson told the station.
The Federal Railroad Administration, the California Public Utilities Commission, Union Pacific, and Dyno Nobel are all looking into the disappearance of the material now and the car was sent back to Wyoming to investigate it.
The car made multiple stops on its journey to California.
“We take this matter seriously and will work to understand how it happened and how it can be prevented from occurring again,” a company spokesperson said.
This story is just a little crazy. How could they possibly lose that much? And it was all in one car? How could something like that just leak out? That sounds like such a strange explanation. If it had leaked out, wouldn’t they easily be able to determine that simply by backtracking on the trip? Yet, they aren’t saying that. And if it can just leak out, that’s not particularly reassuring either. How could they be securing something in such a fashion? But for that much to be missing is more than a little concerning.