Services re-open on Mt Isa line following sulfuric acid derailment


Freight and passenger services have resumed on the Mount Isa rail line in north-west Queensland, after a train carrying 817,000 litres of acid for Incitec Pivot derailed last month.

An Aurizon locomotive and all 26 of its wagons derailed near Julia Creek at around 10.20am on December 27, 2015.

Police reported that one of the train’s wagons had ruptured, leaking roughly 31,500 litres of sulfuric acid, some of which reached the nearby Horse Creek and contaminated it, according to Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage.

Fortunately no serious injuries were reported following the derailment.

Workers treated the acid spill with limestone powder, which was placed in the river and on the surrounding landscape to neutralise the strong industrial acid.

Meanwhile an 800 metre rail deviation was constructed around the derailment site, so services could resume while wagon and locomotive recovery work takes place in coming weeks.

Queensland Rail, which is responsible for the Mount Isa line, said on Wednesday that the line had re-opened at 6pm on Tuesday, January 12.

“Following the completion of the rail deviation, freight trains resumed on the Mount Isa line,” QR said.

“Queensland Rail recognises the importance of the Mount Isa line to the local economy, particularly in shipping freight to the Port of Townsville, and will continue to work closely with freight companies to accommodate additional freight movements on the Mount Isa line where possible.

“We are confident we can complete any additional movements before the end of this financial year.”

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has opened an investigation into the derailment, which has not yet been explained by Aurizon or Queensland Rail.

Aurizon, the Queensland-based operator which used to be a part of QR, is working with Incitec Pivot to recover the train and its wagons.


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