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Dangerous derailments: how can I hold responsible parties accountable? P.1

The National Transportation Safety Board is currently on alert about the dangers of a certain type of oil tank car in the wake of recent oil shipping accidents. Earlier this week, just such an accident occurred near Mount Carbon, West Virginia when 26 of 109 tankers carrying a total of over 300,000 thousand gallons of crude oil from North Dakota derailed and crashed near the Armstrong Creek, causing a massive explosion and forcing hundreds of families to evacuate their homes.

The consequences of such a crash could potentially be devastating. In this case, fortunately, there were no deaths connected to the crash, though one person had to be treated for smoke inhalation. At this point, an investigation is being conducted to determine the cause of the crash. 

The specific type of railcar involved in the accident—the CPC 1232—is reportedly in compliance with updated safety standards put out by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The previous version of the oil tanker apparently had issues with easy puncturing.  That being said, the DOT has more recently recommended that companies make improvements on the braking systems and hulls of even these newer models.

One of the possible causes for the increasing occurrence of these accidents, according to commentators, is that there has been a drastic increase in the amount of crude oil being transported. It is also becoming increasingly clear that many of the rails cars currently in use are simply not up to the job of carrying the oil safely.  

In our next post, we’ll address the issue of how those affected by commercial vehicle accidents like these can hold responsible parties liable for injuries and deaths they cause.

Source: ABC News, “West Virginia Oil Train Derailment: Fires for Hours, Smoke,” John Raby &Jonathan Mattise, Feb. 17, 2015. 

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