Lviv prosecutors name 2 main versions of phosphorus train crash

15:32, 31 July 2007
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Violation of safety rules or inappropriate state of the railway track?

According to preliminary conclusions drawn by the Lviv regional Prosecutor`s Office, the most probable cause of the derailment of a train carrying yellow phosphorus outside Lviv on July 16 is violation of safety rules during the loading of phosphorus and inappropriate state of the railway track, according to Itar-Tass.

      The final causes of the crash will be established after the Prosecutor`s Office gets the results of the line-of-duty investigation conducted by the Ukrainian Railways company.

      Transport workers of Kazakhstan hope to settle within a week with Belarus the issue of transit of yellow phosphorus to Europe via the Belarussian territory.

      “We are holding negotiations on Belarus together with railway companies in order to determine the transit route across the Belarussian territory,” Kazakh Transport and Communications Minister Serik Akhmetov said at a telephone conference in the government on Tuesday. He said that he has “sent a corresponding letter to the Belarussian transport minister.”

      Akhmetov also stressed that the “transit of yellow phosphorus through the Ukrainian territory has been suspended until the state commission for emergency situations completes its work.”

      Yellow phosphorus was shipped from the Kazakh station Asa to the railway station Oklesa in Poland. As a result of a crash near Lviv on July 16 from 58 wagons, 15 tank cars with yellow phosphorus overturned, and six of them caught fire over depressurisation. During the fire phosphorus mixed with the air, as a result a cloud of poisonous substances spread onto an area of about 80 square kilometres. Five districts of the Lviv region with a population of about 11,000 people happened to be in the contamination zone. As many as 164 people, including 15 rescuers, who participated in the fire fighting efforts, were hospitalised.

      In the view of Kazakh specialists that have visited the crash site and examined the state of railway tracks at the section of derailment of the tank cars with yellow phosphorus, the crash was caused by violation of the track repair procedure. However, the Ukrainian Transport Ministry said the possible cause of the derailment was unsatisfactory technical conditions of wagons and failure to comply with the technical conditions of loading of yellow phosphorus by the Kazakh freighter. The Ukrainian state commission`s conclusions have not been made public yet.

      A special train with tank cars with yellow phosphorus and two fire-fighting trains on July 26 was sent from the Krasnoye station in the Lviv region back to Kazakhstan via the Russian territory. The train comprised 15 tank cars with phosphorus that overturned in the Lviv region on July 16, three tank cars with contaminated soil, phosphorus and foam that was poured on burning substance.

      Under an agreement between three countries, Kazakhstan expects the return of that train with phosphorus for its further recycling.

      The special train carrying yellow phosphorus from the accident scene in Ukraine’s Lviv region on Monday was moving in the Kazakhstan territory without fire-fighting trains accompanying it, head of the Atyrau district department of the Kazakh Emergency Situations Ministry Serik Khairushev told Itar-Tass.

      According to the official, at 11:00 a.m., Moscow time, the train passed the Makat station (some 100 kilometres south of Atyrau). The train is bound for Taraz (southern Kazakhstan) where the Kazfosfat plant producing yellow phosphorus is located.

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