When a train transporting hazardous materials derails or leaks, the lives of rail workers and persons nearby can be placed into jeopardy. The danger is often discrete, based on uncontained colorless, odorless, and mobile hazardous materials. Such hazardous materials transported by rail include toxic gases, liquids, and other vaporous substances that can cause lethal health consequences when coming into contact with humans.
When a leak or derailment occurs, it is often up to local officials, a hazardous materials response team, and/or a third party company to travel to the hazmat site, find the problem, properly assess it, take necessary evacuation measures, and conduct proper clean-up, among other processes. Unfortunately, these response measures may be untimely, improperly conducted, or ineffective.
Early this year, David Willauer, Transportation Manager of IEM, Inc., reported about the hidden dangers of a train’s recent derailment in North Carolina. Willauer stated that “[i]t is still not known why nine rail cars in a 109-car train derailed from CSX tracks in downtown Bladensboro, NC…” He went further to say that the local emergency response team evacuated 300 people to an elementary school shelter, due to the danger of individuals being affected by the hazardous materials that were transported by the overturned train tank cars.
Out of the train’s tank cars that derailed in North Carolina, four of them contained hazardous materials, including anhydrous ammonia (NH3), a toxic inhalation hazard.1 This is a very dangerous and dense gas, which can seep into the ground and cause serious health consequences.
Notably, North Carolina ranks third in the nation for chemical production.2 Due to the railroads’ inherent interconnectedness with urban and residential areas across North Carolina, coupled with our high volume of chemical production, the following simple equation rings true:
A higher quantity of chemicals being transported by train through our backyards equals a higher amount of risk to dangers to our wellbeing as a result of train incidents.
Willauer states the obvious, that “hazmat rail incidents can affect populated areas.” This is a hidden, yet ever-so-present danger for North Carolinians.
If you, a friend, or family member has been negatively affected by a train incident, please contact an experienced attorney that can collect the financial compensation that is necessary for you to move on with your lives. At Charles G. Monnett III & Associates, our attorneys and staff have the experience to evaluate and advocate your claim, effectively.