With higher safety rates the end goal in mind for all, there has been much debate recently over whether or not the most common type of rail tanker, called the DOT-111, should be retrofitted to increase safety. Presently, old tankers have thinner steel walls that leave them susceptible to puncture and explosion in the event of a derailment.
To retrofit the outdated tankers would cost a reported $1 billion. With a reported 99 percent success rate in shipment of hazardous materials, ethanol companies are pushing to avoid retrofitting older tankers. However, this could mean that they are putting a price tag on possible industrial accidents, the lives of their employees and the lives of the members of communities where the tracks run through.
In a 2009 explosion in Rockford, Illinois, several rail tankers carrying ethanol derailed after part of the track was washed out in the rain. The ensuing blast was unparalleled, resulting in death and injury. According to one witness, “The heat was so excruciating that I had to ball up and cover my body.”
Other accidents like this in the country have killed train workers as well. When a worker is injured or killed through the course of their work, workers’ compensation is in order. This will cover lost wages as well as medical expenses.
However, if there is a known safety risk and employers were negligent in rectifying the risk, additional compensation could be in order as well. Workers should be protected from workplace hazards to the best of the employer’s ability.
Source: The Bellingham Herald, “Common type of rail car has dangerous design flaw,” Jason Keyser, Sept. 12, 2012