The transport of hazardous substances engenders unavoidable risks. However, this does not mean that all the risks arising from the current transport of hazardous substances should simply be accepted. Such transport, and the majority of rail transport, should be organised in such a way that only exceptional factors represent any risk. The investigation by the Board for Transport Safety into the accident involving acrylonitrile, which occurred at the Amersfoort station complex on 20 August 2002, has shown that in practice, the transport of hazardous substances is very far from being organised in this way, as yet. On this day, at Amersfoort Station, a goods train was present, with a destination in Germany, with immediately behind the locomotive a tank wagon filled with more than 70,000 litres of extremely hazardous acrylonitrile. The train had been parked in this location from five o’clock in the morning. Following arrival, the driver had returned home, so that the train was effectively parked in the centre of the city without any monitoring or supervision. At 11:03 hours, the discovery was made that the tank wagon was leaking acrylonitrile. At 11:28 hours, the decision was taken to evacuate an area with a radius of 100 metres. Not until a further 25 minutes had passed was train traffic passing within only a few metres of the tank wagon also halted. The fire brigade called in the regional hazardous substances officer. The municipal crisis team which by this time had been appointed, opted for the safest course of action, on the basis of the limited information available, and at 13:20 hours had the area within a radius of 500 metres around the train shut off.

Acrylonitril Leakage Amersfoort Station

Investigation data

Theme Rail traffic

Investigation start date

Report publication date

Status Completed

Phase Publication