Union reports December 22 Custer train derailment caused by sabotage

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Seattle National Public Radio station KUOW reported June 7 that sabotage caused the December 22, 2020 Custer train derailment, according to the union representing BNSF rail crews.

In an article titled “Sabotage caused Washington oil-train disaster,” Korey McDaniel, who is with the union’s safety team, told BNSF Railway investigators, “We know from the FBI investigation, from how trains operate, how trains work, how the couplers work, how the pin lifters work, that this incident was caused without a doubt by sabotage.”

The cause of derailment won't be official until the FBI, National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Railroad Administration finish their investigations, KUOW reports.

The 11:40 a.m. train derailment forced evacuations and caused fire to burn into the night after 10 train cars overturned from tracks near the 7500 block of Portal Way. The 108-car train was carrying highly flammable crude oil as it traveled to Ferndale.

The derailment occurred less than a month after two Bellingham women were arrested in late November for tampering with tracks in Bellingham. Over 40 shunts, or devices that can cause derailment, had been placed on Whatcom and Skagit county tracks in 2020.

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