Hazardous Materials Transportation Act
Did Your Employer Follow Regulations?
The Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA), enacted in 1975, governs the transportation of hazardous materials by railroad. It applies to shippers and carriers and is enforced by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). There is actually an entire division within FRA devoted solely to hazardous materials. This division is concerned with anything that will prevent accidents and promote the safety of railroad workers. They make rules, conduct investigations, and take measures to make sure HAZMAT railway transportation is safe. A safety program is administered that oversees the movement of hazardous materials such as petroleum, chemical, and nuclear products throughout the nation’s rail system.
The Hazardous Materials Division of FRA operates a safety regulatory program that includes:
- Railroad Industrial Hygiene Program
- Rulemaking, Approvals, and Exemptions
- Hazardous Materials Incident Reduction Program
- Tank Car Facility Conformity Assessment Program
- Tank Car Owner Maintenance Program Evaluations
- Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Nuclear Waste Program
- Partnerships in Domestic and International Standards-Related Organizations
- Education, Safety Assurance, Compliance, and Accident Investigation
Hazardous Materials Transportation Endangers the Public
The transportation of hazardous materials accounts for the usage of over 1 million rail cars every year. HAZMAT safety issues come into play in these instances because any type of train accident that involves cargo of toxic substances could greatly jeopardize passengers and employees. For example, in Salt Lake City, March 2005, approximately 6,000 people were forced to evacuate when a toxic cloud filled the air. The emergency occurred when rail cars designed to transport sulfuric acid were compromised and released hazardous materials into the atmosphere. HAZMAT teams were unable to obtain cargo information from the tank operators and were forced to test the leaking material. The tanks were loaded with a mixture of acetic, hydrofluoric, phosphoric, and sulfuric acids that the tank cars were never designed to carry. Public health and welfare, not to mention the safety of emergency teams, were compromised by the reckless behavior of the tank car operators.
Clearly, the transportation of toxic cargo poses a great danger to everyone involved.
Although it may be a lucrative form of business for the train industry, it is one filled with great dangers that could substantially affect the lives of those who are injured. This is largely because of the fact that any accident in which a train carrying dangerous substances is involved will naturally lead to spillage and unsafe exposure to the harmful chemicals being carried. This type of exposure can easily and quickly lead to injury, illness and long-term disease, making it imperative to obtain a railroad injury attorney immediately after any incident of this nature.
In many disasters involving hazardous materials, emergency responders are less than familiar with measures that need to be taken to sustain this type of wreck. This is not only inconvenient, it is also dangerous to the passengers and workers onboard the train at the time of the accident. Too many things can go wrong when the operation and maintenance of a railroad or train car are not properly attended to. If failure to adhere to the laws that govern railroad safety and compliance have led to your accident, you should take action.
Hazardous Materials Transportation Act FAQ
What is the purpose of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act?
The purpose of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act is to provide much-needed protection to people, property, and the environment when hazardous materials are transported anywhere in the U.S. or internationally. By coordinating efforts between shippers, carriers, tank car builders, and governments, safer transport practices can be implemented and followed. Thanks to HMTA and efforts by the Federal Railroad Administration, rail tank car accidents involving hazardous materials are rare. When they do occur, however, they have the potential to be catastrophic.
How often are hazardous materials transported by rail?
According to research presented by the National Academies Press, most hazardous materials are transported by truck. In fact, commercial trucks transport about 94% of daily shipments and 69% of tons of all hazardous materials shipped every day in the United States. Trains transport 1% of daily shipments and 7% of tons shipped daily. Trucks, trains, boats, and airplanes transport more than 3 billion tons of hazardous waste in the U.S. each year. Laws like the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act could not be more important with such vast quantities of materials being transported throughout the country.
What Does HAZMAT Do for Railroad Workers?
Often, railroad workers are exposed to these toxic materials even when a train accident has not taken place. By inhaling these toxins, railroad workers may develop an illness. Necessary safety equipment must be worn and enforced by railroad employers. HAZMAT safety is extremely important so that railroad workers do not become injured or develop illnesses. The Hazardous Materials Division of FRA is absolutely vital to sustaining this type of atmosphere. Unfortunately, railway workers often become injured even despite these regulations.
If this describes your situation, then be sure to get in touch with a train accident lawyer from our firm today.
Talk to Our Team of HAZMAT Safety Lawyers Today: (888) 493-1629
We can quickly build a strong case in your defense, citing any failures to maintain standard operations of safe working conditions. This may include investigations into the toxic materials to which you were exposed. No matter what the specific circumstances of your case may be, our attorneys are on hand to help in any way that we can. If your injury or illness was caused by your employer's failure to adhere to safety guidelines, you should contact a qualified injury attorney at once. Arnold & Itkin LLP lawyers have successfully represented victims injured in railroad accidents. We can help you build a strong and persuasive case as quickly as possible.
Contact us by calling (888) 493-1629 to learn more about HAZMAT safety standards and how the law can be applied to your case.