Rut Roh…

Some 60,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used as both fertilizer and a component in explosives, went missing as it was shipped by rail from Wyoming to California last month, prompting four separate investigations.

A railcar loaded with 30 tons of the chemical left Cheyenne, Wyoming, on April 12. The car was found to be empty after it arrived two weeks later at a rail stop in the Mojave Desert, according to a short incident report from the explosives firm that made the shipment.

Full article, HERE from KQED.

The investigation says it ‘leaked out’…

If it did, there should be traces on the roadbed, if not, it could be anywhere in the USA in the back of any kind of box truck or tractor trailer rig. As a reminder, the OKC bombing was ONE ton of ammonium nitrate.

I don’t know what to think on this one, and I REALLY don’t want to think the worst, but…

h/t Stretch



Rut Roh… — 27 Comments

  1. This is a set up. What exactly for, I’m not sure – but I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough and we won’t like the results.

  2. Having worked in the rail industry for a while, the use of hopper cars for transporting pelletized product is pretty common. What would not be common is for all 3, 4 or more gravity gates to be improperly seated at the same time. Each gate has it’s own lock/discharge lever.

    If one were to fail and start emptying the car, all the other conical chutes would still have some material in them, only the leaking one would be empty as would the rail car to the level of the cone lip.

    The article seems to be a bit confused in their description of the type of rail car. “in a covered hopper car similar to those used to ship coal”, there are at least 3 variants of coal cars that I have seen, one is a rotary dump gondola that has no bottom discharge at all, and the others have angular or conical chutes with large trap doors seeing that the coal can be pellet size or chunk size and different size discharge gates are used.

    I would have expected the ammonium nitrate pellets which are pretty uniform and small to use a pellet car of the type used to move plastic feedstocks to the manufacturing facilities. these are not always open top but more like tank cars with roof hatches for filling, but those are typically aluminum construction which perhaps is not friendly to nitrates. Steel version would likely be used.

    Like someone mentioned, we are probably going to find out soon enough if there is a long stream of pellets between WY and CA or if the track bed is clear of nitrates, in which case SOMEONE should be getting really worried.

    • Oh, one more thought – coal not being water soluble is usually in open top cars. Lots of bitching when there is rain and then freezing weather at the discharge point.

    • If it has rained, that long stream of pellets will have dissolved and soaked into the ground. If it’s stayed dry, they probably haven’t blown away. But I think that was at least a 1,000 mile trip, so if the stuff is spread evenly it’s only 60 pounds per mile, or 0.18 ounce per foot. You’ll have to look closely to find it.

      The other thing is that I hear that it took 2 weeks for the hopper car to make that trip. It had to be sitting motionless at a siding for most of that time. If it was a leak, it’s likely they dropped a large heap wherever it sat. There might be enough in one spot to worry about whether this stuff will corrode rails, spikes, wheels, or ties.

      And that long period sitting left it an easy target for saboteurs or idiot pranksters to pry the dump gates open a little. Stealing it would be more of a challenge – you’d have to either bring the hopper car and a large dump truck to a pit designed for dumping the hopper, or find a vacuum strong enough to vacuum the pellets out of the top of the hopper and into a truck sitting beside the tracks.

      OTOH, I can see someone stealing a smaller quantity by putting buckets under the hopper, prying the gates open a little, and hand-loading the buckets into a pickup. They probably could not close the gates, so the rest leaked out – and this provided some misdirection.

  3. This Babylon 5 quote seems appropriate.

    Susan Ivanova:
    “No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There’s always a boom tomorrow. What? Look, somebody’s got to have some damn perspective around here! Boom. Sooner or later. BOOM!”

  4. For most things I tend to believe in the great f**k up theory versus the great conspiracy theory. In the absence of further information, I suspect someone at the loading site failed to properly secure the dump doors of the hopper car. There has been a fair bit of rain over some of the area traveled by the car, so there may not be identifiable piles of white pellets left along the roadbed. However in today’s environment anything is possible so I’ll keep an eye on this and see where the investigation leads.

  5. I hope they are right that it leaked out during the trip but my instincts tell me someone has that stuff and are planning a lot of terror bombings in the major cities. Probably New York, Washington DC, and others. My guess is Chinese infiltrators that came in through the southern border illegally.

    • Would Chinese agents really blow up the government they purchased in DC?

      • Considering that there are now over 500,000 ChiCom males of military age who have crossed the southern border ‘illegally,’ then, yes.

        • If there are that many, then that may be the Chi-Coms occupation force in place when things go sideways in this country.

          Another thought is that in 2022 there were over 30 million more men than women in the PRC. I have read, that for a great number of young men there are no women to marry. Could they just be escaping to somewhere they think there may be more marriageable women? The U.S. has about 97 males for every 100 females.

  6. JOOC, how the heck does someone get the entire car load out with the car in a consist? Unload it onto the rails while the car is sitting and carry off by wheelbarrow? I am certainly willing to think theft but I have to ask “how?”. If the car left the consist at some point then all bets are off. Seems no record of that given the news reports.


    • Well, the logical answer to that is the car was never filled in the first place. Common practice is for the empty car(s) to be dropped at the manufacturer rail loading point, then are moved locally by a short line hauler to a marshaling yard to be placed into the correct line for that destination. All kinds of opportunity to play with it before it moves. Having worked one summer for a short line, not impossible to believe shenanigans at point of origin.

  7. At this point, I’m inclined to believe it was an accidental loss. Either the dump hatches weren’t properly secured, and/or the car was damaged and a seal ruptured, leading to cargo leaking out. Not a railroader, but I do spend an unhealthy amount of time watching Virtual Railfan’s livestreams from webcams all over the country. It’s not terribly unusual to see a hopper car leaking its cargo over the railbed, anywhere from a trickle to clouds-billowing-out-the-side. I figure it happens one a month or so, maybe a little less often.

    The other big question is, if this a false-flag… why? Why steal far more ammonium nitrate than they could ever possibly need or use. Why steal it at all when they could just buy some with “black budget” money? Hell, why steal any at all since the Feds and the media will actively cover up the perps’ involvement in whatever they’ll use the stuff for anyway? They could just buy it with a .gov check and the general public would never be permitted to learn that was the truth.

    • Because this will give them an excuse to create more laws.
      Say like banning fertilizer.

      • Fair point.

        I’d say “they’re not that stupid,” but the last few years have not only taught me better, but I’ve learned that whenever I or anyone else says it, D.C. seems to take it as a challenge.

        • This isn’t stupidity, this is evil and it’s aggressively on the move. Banning fertilizers is a push currently in Europe and Canada. This can’t result in anything other than an extremely restricted food supply, and starvation.

          What’s the common big “go to” thing in the Communism bag to kill off your own population? Starvation.

          Who has infiltrated the education and political power systems for several decades now? Communists.

          Who tries to hide behind the names “Liberal” and “Socialists”? Communists.

          Mix in that creepy bastard Klaus Schwab and all of his WEF goons that infiltrate the top layers of foreign governments, and what their goals are, and everyone had better come to the conclusion right quick that yes, they mean to kill us. We are the “carbon footprint” they seek to eliminate. Maybe we’d better take that threat seriously.

  8. The high cost of fertilizer today means simple theft is a possibility. It maybe bring peddled to farmers and ranchers for cash from SD to IL.

  9. I’m inclined towards incompetence or simple theft over terrorism.
    The railroads are hugely understaffed and undertrained these days, so the car could have never been filled, or as mentioned above not properly secured. I bet their records are so poor they can’t be sure it was filled to begin with.
    As also mentioned above, it would be easier and lower profile to buy material for terrorism than to steal it here – rail cars are notoriously difficult to unload without the proper equipment.

  10. All- Thanks, you raise good points. Terra- Thanks I was not aware of that. I ‘hope’ it’s incompetence… I really do…

  11. Sounds like the perfect recipe for however many false flags it takes.

  12. Notice the “officials” don’t mention how it was packed? Pellets, powder, liquid? Hopper, tank car, box car? Powder in sacks, buckets, 55gal drums? Railroad train manifest and train tracking software, where car was in switching yards, sidings? Large cargo vehicles thefts? Employee investigations, in consignee, shipping company, railroads, etc?

  13. The only people who could steal 30 tons of ammonium nitrate and not get caught are people who either work for the railroad or for the government. That is a tremendous amount of material to move surreptitiously. A defective hopper on the bottom of a railcar is a feasible possibility. No way for us to know for sure either way however.

  14. Can’t say as I have ever seen a covered coal car. Impedes unloading. If the car were loaded there would indeed be some pellets in and around the drop doors. If this is a charlie fox, some car knocker and/or shop man ought to be out of a job. Two weeks from Cheyenne to the LA basin is a long time even by UP standards. Was no one checking the train at mandated stops? If 60k pounds of load leaked out over the course of two weeks there should be piles where the train had to stand at meets or in a yard.

    • Railroads have a big problem with the theft of freight, and leaving a car or a consist sitting on a siding for most of two weeks is why. It’s impossible to do that while keeping it well-guarded. OTOH, unless this was bagged pellets in a box car, stealing the whole load from a hopper car is very difficult. (But consider that maybe someone made a leak to steal a little, as I’ve suggested above.) Perhaps what they should be looking for is embezzlement, such as fiddling the paperwork to unload the hopper somewhere else and then covering this up.

      Or faking the paperwork that it was loaded in the first place. This could even be a criminal ring doing regular thefts to sell to farmers at a cut rate – paperwork at A shows it shipped to B, but B wasn’t expecting a shipment, and it worked great until their guy at B was sent on a management retreat or was unexpectedly hospitalized. The tell-tale sign of such theft by paperwork might be a clean hopper car with no residue left in the bottom.

  15. Hey Old NFO;

    I thought it was Ammonium Nitrate cut with Diesel Fuel was what that nutcase used in OKC. Or was I wrong(Not like that ain’t the first time, LOL) I am leaning toward incompetence, but with the government in this day and age, a part of me wants to go “Hmmmm”.