In previous litigation involving cancers in railroad transportation workers in the Tennessee (TN) area, one of the issues at trial was whether the railroad followed proper industrial safety steps in surveying the train cars after they had contained radioactive contaminated scrap metal. Federal railroad regulations relating to radioactive contamination requires that railroads, or their suppliers or contractors, properly survey train cars radiologically before they are placed in use to hold any other type of cargo. This makes a ton of sense, but also search to protect railroad workers that are switching these cars and working on a daily basis in close proximity to radioactive cargo, which obviously may leave radioactive contamination on the train car.
For years the railroad involved in this previous case never did one radiological survey of that train car even though it knew it was dealing in what it called low-level radioactive scrap metal. This is why industrial safety protections are very important, but when you are dealing with carcinogenic substances like radioactive waste or scrap, dangers must be evaluated against the benefits of the business itself.
As a Virginia railroad injury and FELA attorney, I have represented railroad workers who developed cancers such as lung, brain, colon and blood after prolonged workplace exposures to radioactive substances and radiation sources such as uranium- and plutonium-contaminated scrap metal and wastes. I'm worried about the long-term effects this mine would have on VA mine and railroad workers. I know that finding alternative energy sources is important to the entire nation, but at what cost?
Radioactive contamination, also called radiation, can be in several forms including alpha and gamma isotopes. The characteristics of these types of isotopes and how they can damage the body's cells, is a fairly complicated discussion but needless to say ionizing radiation can damage cells and can lead to cancer. If you are a railroad employee who has been injured on the job or contracted cancer please read our free consumer guide Learn What Railroad Companies Do Not Want Injured Workers To Know!.