(SNews) – A huge shipment of a dangerous explosive chemical has disappeared while being transported by rail between Wyoming and California, according to reports.
The disappearance of the 30-ton shipment of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used as both fertilizer and as a component in explosives, has triggered four separate investigations.
A railcar loaded with some 60,000 pounds of the chemical left Cheyenne, Wyoming on April 12.
However, it was found empty two weeks later at a rail stop in the Mojave Desert.
The company, Dyno Nobel, made reported the issue to the federal National Response Center (NRC) on May 10, according to a short incident report from the firm which shipped the ammonium, KQED reports.
The report also appeared last week in an NRC database of California incidents managed by the state Office of Emergency Services last Wednesday.
Ammonium nitrate is commonly used as fertilizer.
It’s also an ingredient in high explosives.
The chemical was used in the homemade bomb detonated in the 1995 attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
The Ammonium is transferred in pellet form in a covered hopper car similar to those used to ship coal.
According to Dyno Nobel, the Ammonium must have fallen from the car on the way to a rail siding (where a short track connects with the main track) around 30 miles from the town of Mojave in eastern Kern County, in a city called Saltdale.
“The railcar was sealed when it left the Cheyenne facility, and the seals were still intact when it arrived in Saltdale,” said the company.
“The initial assessment is that a leak through the bottom gate on the railcar may have developed in transit.”
Dyno Nobel added that the two-week trip included multiple stops.
They report having had “limited control” over the railcar operated by Union Pacific.
The railcar is being transported back to Wyoming for inspection.
Meanwhile, a representative for the Federal Railroad Administration says the investigation points to an improperly closed hopper car gate.