Monday, April 22, 2013

Factoid About West, Texas Explosion

Here's a bit of information to consider as you're looking over photos of the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion. If you look at this photo, you may notice that in the lower left corner is a railroad car that was blown over by the explosion:

Image credit: Original picture: Associated Press/Tony Gutierrez. Annotated by Cujo359.

The railroad car is a three-bay covered hopper. Here's some information from a Union Pacific site on this type of car:

Cubic CapacityRange from 4,600 to 5,200 cu. ft.
Gross Weight on RailRange from 263,000 to 286,000 lbs.
Load LimitRange from 197,000 to 224,000 lbs.

That car must have weighed at least thirty tons empty. Based on the pile next to it, it must have been at least partly full at the time. Yet the explosion knocked it off the rails and may have actually pushed it a little ways on its side.

It was one big explosion, particularly when you consider that this plant was operating on the edge of town, close to schools, apartments, and houses.


JEG43 said...

I was impressed by how the main line tracks were bent - and the length of track that was affected . . .

Cujo359 said...

In the photos I saw, I couldn't tell if the tracks were bent (mostly) or buried. Some clearly was, and that, too, took a lot of force applied onto a rather small area.