About 2:35 p.m., September 11, 1969, an Illinois Central freight train struck a pedestrian near the Glendora, Mississippi, station. When the engineer applied the brakes in full emergency in an attempt to avoid striking the pedestrian, the 149-car train buckled at the 108th car. The resulting derailment involved 15 cars, including eight tank cars loaded with vinyl chloride. The cars separated in the derailment and the coupler of one of the cars punctured one of the tank cars, spilling its contents on the ground. Initially, the breeze dispersed the vapor; however, about 8:30 p.m. the vapor accumulated in low places and was ignited by an unknown source. The ignition was followed by several explosions. Upon advice from a State chemist, an estimated 17,000 to 21,000 persons were evacuated because of an alleged danger from phosgene. The following morning a fire-impinged tank car of vinyl chloride exploded violently, seriously damaging the surrounding area. Four tenant houses, several auxiliary buildings, automobiles, and equipment were destroyed and damaged by fire. The pedestrian was seriously injured and a power company employee was burned. Both recovered. The Safety Board determines that the derailment was caused by the buckling of the underframe of the 108th car when the engineer made a full emergency brake application in an attempt to avoid striking a pedestrian who was walking in the track. The car buckled because of excessive and uncontrollable compression in the train which developed when the full emergency brake application created greater braking force on the head of the train than on the rear. The fire and explosions resulted from the rupture of a tank car of vinyl chloride by the coupler of one of the derailed cars. The absence of underlocking couplers and other means of preventing separation and jacknifing allowed the cars to jam up together. The pileup resulted in additional mechanical damage to the tanks and allowed the fire from the leaking tank to impinge on the others.

Media Info

  • Features: Figures;
  • Pagination: 24 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00071759
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Transportation Safety Board
  • Report/Paper Numbers: NTSB-RAR-70-2
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 13 1976 12:00AM