Railways transport approximately 1 million barrels of crude oil each day in the U.S.. This number is expected to increase to 4.5 million barrels a day in the next ten years. Since 2008, there have been 10 derailments that have spilled at least 3 million gallons of crude oil and resulted in fires and explosions. As the traffic increases, so does the risk for spills.
Many of the trains come out of Montana and North Dakota from the Brakken Oil Patch. This oil has a lower ignition point due to its higher natural gas content. The oil needs to be transported from Brakken over 2000 miles to refineries on the East Coast. The highly volatile trains often pass through major metropolitan centers like Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia.
After 2001, regulations were put in place for radioactive materials, explosives and poisonous gases. Crude oil was not on the list of regulated materials. Federal safety officials feel the rules should be revised to include flammable liquids as well. In addition, the government indicates that routing the trains through smaller, more rural areas would not solve the problem. These smaller municipalities may not be equipped to handle the kinds of explosions that can result from a train derailment. A derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec set off an explosion that killed 47 people and destroyed half of the town’s structures.
Railroads have broad discretion as to routing decisions. It would be prudent and in all of our best interests that these routing decisions be reviewed regularly.
When a train carrying oil derails, oil spills frequently result. These spills can result in long-term environmental damage. The property surrounding oil spills may be affected for years.
When personal injury, death, property damage and environmental issues are caused by a train derailment, the railroad may be held responsible for damages caused that result. You need an experienced train accident attorney to take immediate action to protect your rights.
If you have been affected by a train derailment, you probably have a lot of questions about your legal rights. You deserve honest answers from an experienced train accident lawyer. Contact us today for a free consultation. Let us answer all of your questions and help you recover the compensation you deserve.