The ramifications of a train derailment can go far beyond the immediate mayhem and carnage caused by the derailed train car itself. Entire communities can be adversely affected by a derailment for days, months or even years.
A prime example is the recent CSX train derailment in Tennessee. Approximately 5,000 Tennessee residents are under a mandatory evacuation due to the train derailment and fire that occurred in Blount County.
The CSX train car that derailed was carrying acrylonitrile, a hazardous material used in making plastics and other industrial processes. The substance is flammable and is dangerous if inhaled, according to USA Today. Acrylonitrile can also cause mucous membrane irritation, headaches, dizziness and nausea.
Here is a video news report on the CSX derailment:
If that wasn't bad enough, authorities in Blount County are now advising residents to refrain from drinking well water because of potential water contamination.
It is so frustrating to read about an incident involving CSX that may result in people suffering serious illness due to chemical exposure. My Virginia railroad injury law firm has extensive experience in this area. We represented a former CSX conductor who was exposed to asbestos, diesel exhaust fumes, and radiation during his 40-year career with the railroad. He breathed in toxic chemicals and wound up with lung cancer that ultimately took his life in 2010. CSX fought our client's legitimate claim under the Federal Employers Liability Act and continues to fight to this day, even after a Tennessee jury awarded the widow of our client $8.6 million in a jury verdict (currently on appeal).
We sincerely hope that none of the residents in Blount County have to endure what our client went through, including 43 rounds of chemotherapy. The Federal Railroad Administration is investigating the derailement incident and hazmat inspectors are at the scene (as of the time of this posting) so we will likely get more information about the extent of the damage to the community from the chemical spill.