Law aims to help emergency services be ready for train explosions

Trains are confined in mobility by their dependency on tracks to travel. Therefore, you may believe there is no potential for being involved in a train accident if you are not in the immediate proximity of railroad tracks. This is not necessarily the case. Trains often transport highly combustible materials. These materials could cause tremendous damage to the area surrounding a train should an explosion occur.

Crude oil is an example of a hazardous material transported by rail that has the potential to explode. This is significant because the California Energy Commission estimates that by 2016, rail travel will account for almost a quarter of the oil coming into the state.

To help give emergency planners a leg up on dealing with potential hazards, a new law has been enacted. As of Jan. 31, railroads will be required to issue weekly information regarding the schedules of trains and how much crude oil they are transporting. An oil train explosion in Quebec that caused 47 fatalities is illustrative of the seriousness of this issue.

We can conclude a couple of things from the creation of this new law. First, California recognizes the need to be prepared for the dangers posed by trains carrying crude oil. The law is also a sign that the possibility for tragedy due to train explosions is very real.

Clearly, trains have the potential to cause harm in areas beyond railroad crossings and tracks. An explosion and resulting fire could inflict serious injuries on those in surrounding neighborhoods. Railroad companies have a responsibility to take every available precaution when transporting hazardous materials.

Should you ever be harmed due to negligence on behalf of a railroad company, you may want to consider contacting a personal injury lawyer to help you seek compensation.

Source: Capital Public Radio, “New Law Requires Train Companies To Report To Emergency Services,” Amy Quinton, Dec. 24, 2014

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