Chemical Train Derailment Causes Evacuations in Mississippi

Recently, the derailment of an 85-car train carrying fuel oil and liquid fertilizer made headline news as it forced the evacuation of several residents.  The train was traveling from Jackson Mississippi to Mobile, Alabama, and derailed at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, January 31, 2014, in Augusta, Mississippi.  It was operated by Canadian National Railway Company.

Thankfully, no one was hurt during the incident and the rail cars did not ignite or explode.  Four of the rail cars did, however, begin leaking the fuel aboard.  About 50 people living within a half-mile radius had to be evacuated because of the leak.  Due to the highly flammable nature of the ethanol-based product, the nearby highway was also shut down in both directions.  No fires were sparked from the incident and clean up efforts progressed rapidly.

The cause of the derailment is currently under investigation.  At this time, it is not believed to be the product of a criminal act.

The accident follows a string of derailments involving trains transporting crude oil across the U.S. and Canada.  Several months earlier, a crude oil train derailed in Quebec’s provincial town of Lac-Mégantic.  The accident led to a fiery explosion and catastrophic results.  Forty-seven people were killed and many more injured.  Other derailments in Alabama and North Dakota resulted in large fires but no fatalities.

The rash of recent train derailments has raised questions as to the safety of hauling petroleum by train.  Investigators are re-examining the combustible properties of certain oils and the safety of the tanker cars.  It appears likely some measures will be taken in the near future to the diminish hazards involved with transporting oil via train.

Along with the recent train derailments involving combustible materials, commuter train crashes have also been in the news.  Notably, in December of 2013, a derailment occurring in the Bronx of New York City caused the train’s locomotive and several cars to topple over and left the lead car inches from the water.  Four people died and another 60 were injured.

Thousands of train accidents occur each year.  There are many potential causes of derailment, including:

  • Collisions with other trains
  • Collisions with other motor vehicles crossing the tracks
  • Poor or improper maintenance of tracks
  • Improper switch alignment
  • Mechanical failure of train cars or engines
  • Railroad crossing collisions
  • Failure to install adequate signals such as gates and lights
  • Improper training of train crews
  • Overworked or tired train crews
  • Improper removal of obstructions near railroad crossings
  • Excessive speed, particularly in poor weather conditions
  • Understaffed track maintenance departments

Following a train derailment, like the recent one in Mississippi, it is crucial to conduct a thorough investigation of all the facts in order to properly establish negligence.  The derailment and ensuing injury to one’s person may be the fault of more than one party, due to the type of material carried on the cars that could result in damage to individuals and property.

Though not as common as car accidents, train accidents can lead to deadly results.  These vehicles travel at high rates of speed and often haul dangerous or heavy materials.  If you or a loved one is injured in a train crash or a collision with a train, it is imperative you consult with an experienced train accident attorney as soon as possible.

Giddens Law Firm has devoted decades to fighting for the full recovery of accident victims.  At Giddens Law Firm, our passion and commitment to our clients is evident in all that we do.  From your initial consultation to that winning day at trial, the Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys at Giddens Law Firm will provide you with the excellence of legal service your case deserves.  Call us today at (601) 355-2022 to schedule a free consultation.