Gas tankers still burning at Lillestroem : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Friday, 7.4.2000

Gas tankers still burning at Lillestroem - Preparations underway for faster burn-off

The situation at Lillestroem, north of Oslo, was basically unchanged Thursday. The leaking gas tanker is still burning, and the firemen have been able to keep the other rail tanker cooled down. Experts therefore think that the danger of an explosion is now slightly less than on Wednesday.

On Thursday night experts began preparing to to try to burn off the gas at a faster rate. That would involve fitting a burn-off valve to the back of the burning tanker, and there is a certain personnel risk involved, while the valve is being mounted.

The experts, using heat-sensitive cameras, say around half the amount of gas in the burning tanker has been consumed. It is estimated that with the present rate, the fire would continue to burn for several days.

With the burn-off valve this time would be much shorter, allowing the people who have been evacuated to return home earlier than first thought.

But is still uncertain when the 2000 people will be able to move back to their homes. All of them have been given a bed for the night, either with family or friends, or at hotels or a nearby military camp.

It has been determined that the cause of the traincrash early Wednesday, most likely was faulty brakes on one of the goods trains.

The engineer has said that the automatic train stop (ATS) did function, but that the brakes appeared to be only partially effective. He gave signal with the siren, and managed to jump back into the engineroom just before the crash occurred, at reduced speed. No one was hurt in the pile-up.

Experts are surprised that the tanker did not withstand this moderate crash. They say that these rail tankers are built to withstand much heavier collisions.

The fire is still moderate, and the tankers are being cooled down. Water cannons are pouring 5000 liter water per minute over the tankers. Experts from the Directorate for Fire and Explosives Protection are continously monitoring the temperature.

The hope is that the gas will burn out under control, but the authorities deemed the evacuation of an area with 800 meter radius necessary. A hospital, the local jail and a public school are among the buildings within, or near the area.

The railroads have appointed a commission to look into the cause of the accident.

All rail traffic through Lillestroem station, including the Oslo Airport Express, has been stopped. The main highways through the city have also been closed.

Travellers are being transported around Lillestroem by bus and taxi. Some planes may be delayed by late-coming passengers.

The fire has caused great difficulty also for the railways, and many trains in South Eastern Norway are delayed or cancelled

-- Martin Thompson (, April 07, 2000

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