An improperly secured switch was to blame for the derailment in New Orleans East last month of two railroad cars carrying some 60,000 gallons of crude oil, according to the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad.
The 109-car train was traveling about 5 mph to the Gulf Gateway Terminal on March 1 when the 96th railcar went off the tracks as it crossed the switch at Jourdan Road, said Erica Beck, senior vice president and general counsel for the Public Belt Railroad. That car’s derailment caused the following car to derail as well.
An investigation found the switch handle at Jourdan Road had been “out of the foot latch and in neutral position,” Beck said.
“The cause of the derailment was that the switch was not secured properly,” she said, “although it cannot be definitively determined what caused the switch to not be secured properly.”
The switch was found to be in proper working order with no defects, Beck said, adding there was no damage to the switch points.
Authorities determined that no oil leaked from the derailed cars.