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HAZMAT Crews are Unaware of the Specific Contents of Railroad Cars, Including Deadly Chemicals

According to the Star Gazette, railroad companies often ship deadly chemicals across the country on a daily basis, yet the companies refuse to publicly disclose exactly what those substances are or how frequently they are transported through certain areas.

A spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) reported that only railroad companies know what cargo is held within the cars. As a result, HAZMAT crews that are tasked with responding to the scene of an accident have no knowledge of the contents of the railway cars.

The spokesperson defended the railroad company’s lack of disclosure, stating that the information must remain undisclosed since it is a “matter of national security.”

Currently, local officials may inquire as to the contents of the cars, yet the FRA will only share the top chemicals moving through the area each year and not the quantities.

According to the article, most of the HAZMAT teams report that they are prepared to handle a minor chemical leak, yet they do in fact need to know what chemical they are dealing with.

Earlier this year, a railway tanker, which contained ethanol, derailed in Massachusetts. Accidents such as the Massachusetts ethanol spill may leave response workers unprepared due to a lack of information before they respond.

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, please contact the law firm of Altman & Altman for a free initial consultation. Our firm brings over 5 decades of experience in handling catastrophic work injuries, as well as minor injuries, and we are well versed in the specific laws governing work injury cases.

Source: Railroad’s guarded secret: Not even HAZMAT teams are told what’s on train, Star Gazette, August 14, 2010

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