On November 22, Thanksgiving holiday plans were marred in Livingston, Kentucky, as residents fled from their homes and for their lives after a nearby train derailment sparked a deadly chemical fire.
The CSX train derailed around 2:30 p.m. near Livingston, a small, remote town of only about 200 residents. Two of the 16 cars that derailed were carrying molten sulfur, which caught fire after the cars were breached. Residents were soon after encouraged to evacuate for their safety.
CSX said the cause of the derailment and what caused the sulfur to ignite are still under investigation, while officials said they are also monitoring water quality in the area.
According to the American Lung Association, exposure to sulfur dioxide can cause serious respiratory issues, such as shortness of breath, and long-term exposure can be especially hazardous to children, the elderly, and those with asthma.
Approximately 1,700 train derailments occur in the U.S. each year, and many times these accidents include the spilling of hazardous materials.
Train derailments can occur due to a multitude of factors: a crack in a track, a crossing with inadequate safety equipment, a broken axle on a train car, and other factors can all trigger a catastrophic event.
These contributing factors are further exacerbated when dangerous cargo is on board. About 4.5 million tons of toxic chemicals are shipped by rail each year, and an average of 12,000 rail cars carrying hazardous materials pass through cities and towns each day, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Ron Kaminkow, an Amtrak locomotive engineer, stated that “ineffective oversight and a largely self-monitoring industry that has cut the nation’s rail workforce to the bone in recent years has put record profits over safety.”
If this dangerous mix of volatile cargo and neglected railroads has affected you or your loved ones, do not hesitate to contact Morgan & Morgan, the nation’s largest personal injury law firm, to see how a class action attorney can help.