Page:NTSB - Railroad Accident Report - Derailment on May 25, 1989.djvu/39

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pipeline as a result of the 8-foot-wide path that had been made through the trona, the operator of a front-end loader would reach over the pile of trona with the bucket of the loader and drag the material back toward Duffy Street where the trona could then be loaded into trucks. According to the IT manager, the front-end loader worked perpendicular to the pipeline during this operation.

At 4:00 p.m. on May 16, SP opened its line to resume train movements through the area.

May 17, 18, and 19, 1989.—Removal of the trona continued throughout the day on May 17 and 18. Because trona contrasts with the color of the native soil, operators of the equipment were told by IT to visually inspect the area to assure that they had removed all of the trona and about the top 2 inches of native soil. On May 18, a track-mounted (crawler type) excavator was brought to the site to begin removing the trona from the railroad embankment. The excavator was positioned east of the pipeline with the tracks parallel to the pipeline. A smooth steel grading blade was welded to the teeth on the bucket of the excavator. The blade enabled the operator to drag trona that was covering the railroad embankment without removing excessive amounts of material and to leave behind a smoothly graded surface. Testimony by equipment operators in the area at this time indicated that the operator of the excavator would drag the trona down the side of the railroad embankment and across the pipeline to the east side where front-end loaders would pick up the trona and load the trucks. However, according to IT’s project manager, the operator of the excavator would drag the trona down the embankment and build a stockpile of trona on the west side of the pipeline. At that point, a front-end loader would come in, keeping the tires on the east side of the pipeline, scoop up the material, and then back up to a point where the material could be loaded into trucks. Testimony by equipment operators further indicated that the smooth-edged blade welded to the teeth on the bucket of the excavator broke off several times and that the equipment continued to be operated without the smooth-edged blade. According to IT’s project manager, the excavator made two "passes" on the embankment, one pass from south to north and one from north to south.

By early afternoon on May 19, 1989, all the trona had been removed and the fencing of the area that began during the morning was completed. The last piece of equipment used for the cleaning operations, a motor grader, was brought to the site to smooth out the surface and remove tire tracks. After this operation was completed at 6:00 p.m., locks were placed on the two 20-foot-wide gates that were installed with the fence, and the area was secured. According to SP’s contractor, no equipment was used in the area after May 19, 1989.

IT’s project manager testified that when he left the site on May 19, he believed that there were 2 to 3 feet of ground cover over the pipeline. When asked, "Could it have been your work that removed that cover from the 4 to 8-foot level down to the 2 to 3-foot level?" He replied, "Yes."

According to Calnev, a Calnev representative was on site through May 19, during the removal of the trona, to observe the operations, to point out