The Dyno Nobel plant near Cheyenne, Wyoming. (The Center for Land Use Interpretation)
California authorities have launched four separate investigations following the disappearance of a 30-ton shipment of explosive chemicals, as it was shipped by rail from a Dyno Nobel manufacturing plant near Cheyenne, Wyoming en route to Saltdale, California last month, KQED reported.
On April 12, a railcar loaded with 60,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used as both fertilizer and explosives, departed from Cheyenne, Wyoming en route to California. The chemical was reported missing from the shipment two weeks later, and no one knows what really happened.
On May 10, the company Dyno Nobel notified the federal government’s National Response Center, also known as the NRC. Last Wednesday, the complaint was also included in an NRC database of California incidents maintained by the state Office of Emergency Services.
This incident has raised serious concerns regarding public safety and security. The missing chemicals could potentially pose a significant threat if they fall into the wrong hands.
California officials have launched four separate investigations to determine the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the chemicals.
Dyno Nobel says it believes the material — transported in pellet form in a covered hopper car similar to those used to ship coal — fell from the car on the way to a rail siding (a short track connecting with the main track) called Saltdale about 30 miles from the town of Mojave in eastern Kern County.
“The railcar was sealed when it left the Cheyenne facility, and the seals were still intact when it arrived in Saltdale. The initial assessment is that a leak through the bottom gate on the railcar may have developed in transit,” the company said through a spokesperson.
A Federal Railroad Administration representative, though, says the investigation points to one of the hopper car gates not being properly closed.
Dyno Nobel says the trip lasted two weeks and included multiple stops. The company says it had “limited control” over the railcar as Union Pacific moved it through the country. It says the railcar is being transported back to Wyoming for inspection. And it says it hopes to understand how the shipment was lost and will work to prevent something similar happening again.
The Federal Railroad Administration, the California Public Utilities Commission, Union Pacific and Dyno Nobel are investigating the incident, according to their representatives.
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