B-120939, JUL. 27, 1955

B-120939: Jul 27, 1955

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TO NORTHERN PACIFIC RAILWAY COMPANY: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR FILES S-F-54127 AND O 891414. WHICH YOU URGE CONCLUSIVELY PROVE THAT THESE TRANSFORMERS WERE TRANSPORTED BY THE CARRIERS WITHOUT ANY ROUGH. YOU STATE THAT THE CARRIERS POSSESS A CLEAR RECORD AND THAT DELIVERY WAS MADE WITHOUT COMPLAINT OR EXCEPTION BEING TAKEN. THE CARRIER'S AGENT WOULD HAVE BEEN PROMPTLY NOTIFIED OF SUCH DAMAGE. YOU DIRECT ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT THESE SHIPMENTS WERE HAULED BY GOVERNMENT TRAIN FROM ODAIR TO COULEE DAM. SUGGEST THAT THE DAMAGE MIGHT HAVE OCCURRED WHILE BEING SO TRANSPORTED. WERE RECEIVED FROM THE SUPPLIER BY THE ORIGINATING CARRIER IN APPARENT GOOD ORDER AND CONDITION. I 287964 SHOWS THAT THIS SHIPMENT WAS LOADED ON A DEPRESSED CENTER FLAT CAR ON ACCOUNT OF ITS HEIGHT.

B-120939, JUL. 27, 1955

TO NORTHERN PACIFIC RAILWAY COMPANY:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR FILES S-F-54127 AND O 891414, REQUESTING REVIEW OF THE SETTLEMENT IN CLAIM NO. TK-343767, DATED JUNE 10, 1952, DISALLOWING YOUR CLAIM, PER BILL F-47830-A, FOR THE REFUND OF $24,165.97 DEDUCTED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE TO RECOVER THE COST OF REPAIRING CERTAIN TRANSFORMERS, AND PARTS THEREOF, DAMAGED WHILE BEING TRANSPORTED FROM THE WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC COMPANY, SHARON, PENNSYLVANIA, TO THE GRAND COULEE POWER PLANT, COLUMBIA BASIN PROJECT, ODAIR, WASHINGTON, ON GOVERNMENT BILLS OF LADING I-285673 AND I 287964, DURING MAY AND JUNE 1947.

WITH YOUR REQUEST FOR REVIEW YOU FURNISH COPIES OF REPORTS OF THE MOVEMENT OF THESE CARS, TOGETHER WITH COPIES OF INSPECTION REPORTS MADE AFTER DELIVERY OF THE SHIPMENTS, WHICH YOU URGE CONCLUSIVELY PROVE THAT THESE TRANSFORMERS WERE TRANSPORTED BY THE CARRIERS WITHOUT ANY ROUGH, IRREGULAR, OR UNUSUAL HANDLING. YOU STATE THAT THE CARRIERS POSSESS A CLEAR RECORD AND THAT DELIVERY WAS MADE WITHOUT COMPLAINT OR EXCEPTION BEING TAKEN. YOU ALSO STATE THAT HAD ANY DAMAGE BEEN DETECTED ON DELIVERY, THE CARRIER'S AGENT WOULD HAVE BEEN PROMPTLY NOTIFIED OF SUCH DAMAGE. YOU DIRECT ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT THESE SHIPMENTS WERE HAULED BY GOVERNMENT TRAIN FROM ODAIR TO COULEE DAM, A DISTANCE OF THIRTY MILES, THENCE BY TRUCK TO THE DAM SITE, AND SUGGEST THAT THE DAMAGE MIGHT HAVE OCCURRED WHILE BEING SO TRANSPORTED.

THE PERTINENT BILLS OF LADING SHOW THAT THESE TRANSFORMERS, EACH WEIGHING ABOUT 61 TONS TO 64 TONS, AND THE TRANSFORMER PARTS, WERE RECEIVED FROM THE SUPPLIER BY THE ORIGINATING CARRIER IN APPARENT GOOD ORDER AND CONDITION. BILL OF LADING I-285673, COVERING TWO TRANSFORMERS AND PARTS, BEARS THE NOTATION "DO NOT HUMP--- CENTER OF GRAVITY DOES NOT EXCEED 7 FEET FROM RAIL.' BILL OF LADING NO. I 287964 SHOWS THAT THIS SHIPMENT WAS LOADED ON A DEPRESSED CENTER FLAT CAR ON ACCOUNT OF ITS HEIGHT. ARRIVAL OF THESE SHIPMENTS AT ODAIR, WASHINGTON, THE CARS WERE PLACED ON TRACKS OF THE GOVERNMENT-OPERATED RAILROAD "IN THE MANNER USUAL BETWEEN COMMON-CARRIER RAILROADS," FOR TRANSPORTATION TO THE "ASSEMBLY BUILDING" AT THE GRAND COULEE DAM SITE. THEREAFTER, THE FREIGHT CARS ON WHICH THE SHIPMENTS WERE TRANSPORTED TO THE GRAND COULEE DAM SITE WERE PULLED BY A SMALL DIESEL ELECTRIC ENGINE. THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE REPORTS THAT THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED RAILROAD WAS RELATIVELY FREE OF CURVES, WAS KEPT IN GOOD CONDITION, AND WAS LAID OUT OVER FAIRLY LEVEL TERRAIN. THERE WAS NO CAUSE FOR SWITCHING BETWEEN ODAIR AND THE "ASSEMBLY BUILDING," WHERE THE TRANSFORMERS WERE UNLOADED BY MEANS OF OVERHEAD CRANES, AND SET ON LARGE TRAILERS TO BE TAKEN TO THE "LEFT POWERHOUSE.' THE "ASSEMBLY BUILDING" MERELY SERVED AS A RAIL TERMINAL AND STORAGE BUILDING AT THE TIME. WORK OF THE NATURE NECESSARY TO DISMANTLE AND INSPECT TRANSFORMERS THE SIZE OF THE ONES IN QUESTION WAS PERFORMED AT THE "LEFT POWERHOUSE.' THE ROAD OVER WHICH THE TRANSFORMERS TRAVELED FROM THE "ASSEMBLY BUILDING" WAS ASPHALT PAVED IN GOOD CONDITION, EXCEPT FOR A PORTION OF APPROXIMATELY 1,500 FEET, WHICH WAS UNPAVED BUT WAS IN GOOD CONDITION AT THE TIME. THE WORK OF UNLOADING THE TRANSFORMERS FROM THE FREIGHT CARS, PLACING THEM ON TRAILERS, TRANSPORTING THEM TO THE "LEFT POWERHOUSE," AND UNLOADING THEM AT THAT POINT, WAS ACCOMPLISHED UNDER THE OBSERVATION OF INSPECTORS.

THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE REPORTS, ALSO, THAT IT WAS NOT THE PRACTICE IN 1947 FOR BUREAU OF RECLAMATION PERSONNEL TO INSPECT RAIL SHIPMENTS AT ODAIR. INSPECTION WAS DEFERRED UNTIL FREIGHT CARS REACHED THE "ASSEMBLY BUILDING" AT COULEE DAM WHERE THEY WERE UNLOADED. THIS IS UNDERSTANDABLE IN VIEW OF THE TRACK LAYOUT AND THE LOCATION OF FACILITIES AT THE GRAND COULEE DAM SITE. IT WAS THE STANDARD PRACTICE AT THAT TIME TO REMOVE THE CORE FROM TANKS OF TRANSFORMERS FOR CLEANING AND ROUTINE INSPECTION. WAS DURING THIS ROUTINE INSPECTION THAT INTERNAL DAMAGE TO THE TRANSFORMERS WAS FIRST DISCOVERED. THE TRANSFORMERS WERE INSPECTED BY YOUR AGENT, BUREAU OF RECLAMATION INSPECTORS, AND THE WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC COMPANY'S ERECTION ENGINEER. IT IS REPORTED THAT ANY BLASTING WHICH MIGHT HAVE BEEN IN PROGRESS AT COULEE DAM IN 1947 IS CONSIDERED TO HAVE BEEN MORE THAN A SAFE DISTANCE AWAY AND THAT IT IS NOT DEFINITELY KNOWN WHETHER THERE WAS ANY BLASTING DURING JUNE AND JULY 1947. YOU WERE INFORMED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE ON JULY 29, 1947, THAT CLEAR BILLS OF LADING WERE SURRENDERED IN VIEW OF THE ESTIMATED SUBSTANTIAL COST OF REPAIRS WHICH IT WAS BELIEVED WOULD EXCEED THE FREIGHT CHARGES.

ON THE RECORD THERE DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE ANY JUSTIFICATION FOR ASSUMING THAT ANY PART OF THE DAMAGE MIGHT HAVE OCCURRED ON THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED RAILROAD. IN THIS CONNECTION, IT IS NOTED THAT A CARRIER MAY NOT BE RELIEVED OF LIABILITY FOR DAMAGE MERELY BECAUSE OF A POSSIBILITY THAT SOME OF THE DAMAGE WAS ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE NEGLIGENCE OF OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES. SEE NORTHWESTERN MARBLE AND TILE CO. V. WILLIAMS, 151 N.W. 419, 420; WELLS LAUNDRY AND LINEN SUPPLY CO. V. ACME FAST FREIGHT, 85 A.2D 907, 909; AND THOMPSON V. TANKERSLEY, 238 S.W. 2D 263, 265.

ACCORDINGLY, SINCE THIS RECORD DOES NOT SUPPORT RELIEVING THE CARRIERS OF LIABILITY FOR THE DAMAGE INCURRED, THE SETTLEMENT DISALLOWING YOUR CLAIM IS SUSTAINED.