AP EXCLUSIVE: Fuel-hauling trains could derail at 10 a year

In this Feb. 16, 2015 photo provided by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, workers fight a fire after a crude oil train derailment south of south of Timmins, Ontario. As investigators in West Virginia and Ontario pick through the wreckage from the latest pair of oil train derailments to result in massive fires, U.S. transportation officials predict many more catastrophic wrecks involving flammable fuels in coming years absent new regulations. (AP Photo/Transportation Safety Board of Canada)
In this Feb. 16, 2015 photo provided by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, workers fight a fire after a crude oil train derailment south of south of Timmins, Ontario. As investigators in West Virginia and Ontario pick through the wreckage from the latest pair of oil train derailments to result in massive fires, U.S. transportation officials predict many more catastrophic wrecks involving flammable fuels in coming years absent new regulations. (AP Photo/Transportation Safety Board of Canada)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – The federal government predicts that trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades.

The projection was contained in a Department of Transportation analysis from last July. It says the derailments could cause more than $4 billion in damage and possibly kill hundreds of people if a serious accident were to happen in a densely populated part of the U.S.

The study took on new relevance this week after a train loaded with oil derailed in West Virginia, causing a spectacular fire and forcing hundreds of families to evacuate.

Monday’s accident was the latest in a spate of fiery derailments. Senior federal officials say it underscores the need for stronger tank cars and other safety improvements.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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