Articles Posted in Hazardous Materials

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As our readers know, truck accidents can be extremely dangerous. These vehicles that are extremely large in height and size are very common in our area, as Chicago is a large hub for business. Trucks are constantly going to and from our metropolitan area, carrying all sorts of products and goods for businesses. However, sometimes the things they carry are not your everyday consumer items but may be hazardous materials. While truck accidents are already dangerous on their own, consider the gravity of an impact when a hazardous material like gasoline or other chemicals are involved.

According to a recent report by Fox17 News, a tanker truck exploded on Interstate 94. The fire started in the morning, and emergency crews had to battle the fire for several hours into the afternoon. Because of the fire, the interstate was shut down in both directions due to the extreme danger and emergency crews responding. The truck driver was transported to the hospital, and is expected to recover from his injuries. The accident is currently under investigation, as authorities are trying to determine what caused the tanker to explode.

The Chicago Tribune also reported on this explosion, describing how the accident sent huge plumes of smoke into the air, requiring the interstate to be closed. Emergency responders had to battle the fire for several hours, and the fire continued to flare up multiple times as firefighters fought to extinguish it. Apparently, even after the fire was contained on the scene, fires in the city’s sewer system continue to pose dangers and problems for the interstate and local area. A spokesperson from the state’s department of transportation stated that the truck had more than 13,000 gallons of diesel and gasoline in the tanker.
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Commercial trucks transport a wide variety of goods in their employment to the diverse array of businesses and services offered throughout our nation. If you take notice to the types of trucks you see on the road, you can see that just in any given day you will see trucking companies that transport goods far different from each other. Some are carrying food products from different locations, others carrying furniture, machinery and tools for industries, some have large furniture, and others may even have to carry dangerous goods as part of their job.

Oftentimes the law imposes a higher standard on those conducting what are considered “inherently dangerous activities.” This is known as strict liability. Tortfeasors are strictly liable for activities which are extremely dangerous in their very nature. Some common examples include crop dusting, blasting, or transporting toxic chemicals. If an injury results from inherently dangerous activities like these, and the injury is one that is typical and expected of such an activity, the negligent party may be held strictly liable through a personal injury lawsuit.

In a recent report by Fox News, a hazardous chemical spill was the result of a tractor trailer overturning on Interstate 57 in Champaign. As a result of the spill, over 100 residents had to leave their homes because of the danger posed by the chemical’s vapors. The chemical that spilled was dimethylaminopropylamine, which is a chemical used in cleaners and shampoos. The chemical is extremely flammable, and the vapors from it can cause health complications.
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While we all know how frustrating and upsetting motor vehicle accidents can already be due to injuries and financial burdens, the frustrations of these accidents can be amplified when hazardous materials are involved with the collision with regards to dangers to victims and hazards to the nearby environment.

According to recent news by TMJ 4, a bus and a truck recently collided requiring extensive clean up. While thankfully no serious injuries resulted from this accident, local authorities had to call for two ambulances and had to send a hazardous material unit to the scene in order to tend to the crash. As a result of the crash, there was a relatively significant oil spill.

Because vehicles run on fuels such as gas and oil, these hazardous materials can spill when vehicles collide in an accident and may even cause explosions.. Thankfully in this accident, authorities quickly tended to the situation and no significant dangers materialized from the spilled oil. However, this is unfortunately not the case in many accidents, where spilled hazardous materials – whether from fuel or the cargo of large trucks – create a dangerous situation along roads for both parties in the accident and bystanders.
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When truck and motor vehicle accidents occur, we do not only need to worry about injury caused by impact and debris. The vehicles we drive run on fuels, which are classified as hazardous materials. Spills and leaks of these hazardous materials in crashes can pose serious consequences, as discussed below.

According to an article by the Los Angeles Times, a tanker truck was involved in an accident on Interstate 5. As a result of the accident, diesel fuel was spilled along the roadways. The spill from the 26,000 pound truck was so large and hazardous that that the freeway lanes and onramp were closed for some time. Traffic became backed up for many miles as the spill was so large and required intense clean-up.

When motor vehicle and truck accidents cause fuel spills, there can be serious consequences. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration, fuel, such as gasoline, oil, and diesel, are hazardous materials. When such hazardous materials are present, response personnel must attend to environmental impacts and safety issues. Even though hazardous materials fuel our vehicles, when they are spilled in an accident they can pose a threat to public safety. Vehicular fluids include fuel, radiator coolant, transmission fluid, hydraulic fluid, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid, and battery acid. Such materials are flammable and poisonous and can even cause explosion in accidents.

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When we have concern over truck accidents, personal injuries from collision and road closings are not the only consequences we should be worried about. Instead, the consequences go deeper when we consider what kind of goods and products trucks are transporting along their routes. Oftentimes, these are not just foods and other products we find in our grocery stores, but can include chemicals and hazardous materials. When a collision occurs with a truck carrying such materials, the consequences can be severe and lead to not only a heavy cleanup but can pose danger for illnesses, roadside fires, environmental concerns and more.

In one recent truck accident reported by the New Haven Register, a highway was closed for more than 14 hours due to a chemical spill. Emergency responders, including firefighters and the state environmental protection officials, had to rush to the scene and spend Thursday through Friday morning cleaning up the spill to keep citizens and the surrounding environment free from continued dangers.

The accident occurred when the trailer of a pick-up truck jackknifed and caused its cargo of drums containing isocyanates to spring a leak. According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, these chemicals are used for spray-foam insulation. Such chemicals present a significant hazard when inhaled and when in contact with skin. Thankfully though, officials believe that the chemicals should not pose a serious harm to the public because of prompt clean up and due to the fact that the accident was not in close vicinity to the general population. The DEEP Emergency Response Unit transferred the leaking drums into a larger container and transported them away from the scene of the accident. In addition to leaked isocyanates, emergency responders were concerned about the fuel the trucks were running off. The impact of the collision also caused the truck to leak its diesel fuel.

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Even when semi-crashes are thankfully not fatal, they have a lot of consequences calling for local authorities to take action and impact commuting drivers and travelers with road closures on major highways. This cleanup and inspection can take hours or even the day to tend to. When people survive semi-accidents, these result in serious injuries and lengthy healing time, and sometimes long hospital stays.

Similarly to dangerous winter conditions here in Chicago and the rest of the Midwest, the Northwest is experiencing driving hazards as well. On November 27th, in Spokane, Idaho, one person died and eight people were injured in a chain-reaction collision involving a semi, according to The Spokesman-Review. A Washington State Patrol Trooper concluded that the series of three accidents were due to the icy road conditions and several drives traveling too fast for said conditions. Wintertime requires cautious driving, which unfortunately not all with whom we share the roads with use.

One individual unfortunately died at the scene after being hit by a semi truck that had collided with a pickup that traveled into oncoming traffic. After colliding with the pickup truck, the semi went over the median and hit a car, causing the death of a passenger and serious injuries to the driver and a second passenger. In total, there were eight survivors, all of whom had to be taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital for treatment.

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Chicagotribune.com recently reported that two large flatbed trucks collided last week and caused a large fire on Interstate 90 near Barrington. Police say one of the trucks was southbound in the right-hand lane of the interstate around 9am when it attempted to merge into the lane on its left. In the process, another flatbed truck struck it from behind.

Drivers were shocked to travel past the huge clouds of black smoke and flames that consumed both of the trucks. Local fire departments rushed to the scene, one firefighter saying “It was all flames when I got there.” The flames were reportedly high enough to touch nearby utility wires stretching across the roadway. Leaking diesel fuel mixed with the water that firefighters used to douse the trucks caused a small fire that ran down the edge of the roadway. A firefighter working on the scene almost got trapped between the fire in the vehicles and the fire along the side of the road. The flames were large enough to completely destroy the cab of one truck and the engine compartment of the other.

Neither driver was injured in the accident, although an officer at the scene told reporters, “There are a lot of ways this could have been a lot worse.” The first flatbed truck had been carrying big pipes, machinery, and other equipment that could have easily caused more injury or damage. The second flatbed truck was issued a ticket for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. He allegedly told state police that he had put on the brakes, but too late to avoid the collision.

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FireEngineering.com reports that the United States Department of Transportation will conduct a nationwide roadside inspection sweep of large commercial vehicles transporting fireworks that have been classified as Class 1 Explosives. The sweep, which began June 28 and will run through July 8, will examine the driver, vehicle, as well as, hazardous materials loads in an effort to help prevent unnecessary accidents and fatalities due to the unsafe transport of fireworks.

Our Chicago truck accident attorneys learned that the United States Department of Transportation, along with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will conduct the roadside inspections in order to ensure that large commercial vehicles transporting the dangerous materials are operating in full compliance with federal and state safety standards. The agency will take in account safety permits, shipping papers, placards, load securement, packaging, marking, labels, as well as, all additional requirements for the transportation of Class 1 Explosives.

Additionally, the United States Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, as well as, the Federal Aviation Administration have issued safety information geared towards consumers and commercial operators about how to safely handle and transport fireworks. The safety alerts covers a wide variety of areas, including the transport of consumer fireworks – which are considered explosives that are covered by the Hazardous Materials Regulations. The alert outlines the requirements for the explosives – such as proper labeling and packaging.

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Earlier today, an Illinois trucking accident transpired on southbound Route 53 after a large commercial vehicle transported 36,000 pounds of pesticides overturned. According to the news report, posted on DailyHerald.com, the accident occurred around 10:45 a.m. when the semi tractor-trailer rolled over off the roadway’s ramp and into a ditch. The driver remained unharmed and refused advanced medical attention. The accident caused ramp to remain partially closed as roadway and hazardous material crew cleaned the roadway’s wreckage. Local authorities believe the accident was caused by the semi truck driver traveling too fast to negotiate the ramp’s curve or the tractor-trailers load shifted – subsequently causing the rollover. The accident remains under investigation and it has not been confirmed if the large commercial vehicle has received a ticket for the accident.

Any Chicago trucking accident attorney will tell you that given the sheer size and weight of large commercial vehicles, any motor vehicle accident in which these vehicles are involved has the potential for severe and life-altering injuries or death. This threat is only increased when the commercial vehicle accident involves a tractor-trailer transporting a cargo of hazardous materials. Hazardous material trucks (most commonly referred to as HAZMAT) involve those commercial vehicles who transport hazardous materials (such as flammable liquids) from one destination to another. Approximately 800,000 tractor-trailers of hazardous materials are transported every year in the United States – according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – resulting in approximately 200 fatal accidents.

In order to reduce the severe damage that often results from HAZMAT truck accidents, truck drivers and their trucking carriers are required by law to adhere to the Hazardous Material Transportation Act. The Act, published in 1975, was implemented in an effort to provide adequate protection against the common risks and dangers associated with the transportation of hazardous materials. The Hazardous Material Transportation Act designated materials or classes of materials that are hazardous and provides requirements for the safe transportation of such material.

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A Chicago truck accident lawyer at our firm read a news report detailing an Illinois trucking accident that transpired on Interstate 80 earlier this week. According to BCRNews.com, the accident transpired when a semi tractor-trailer traveling westbound on I-80 struck the roadway’s center median, crossed the westbound lanes and subsequently overturned – coming to a rest on the driver’s side of the commercial vehicle. The truck driver remained trapped inside the vehicle and required extrication by local fire departments.

The truck driver sustained minor injuries in the accident and required advanced medical attention. Our Chicago truck accident attorney learned that is was later revealed that immediately prior to the destructive accident, the truck driver had started coughing and blacked out. Additionally, the accident caused the truck’s tanker – which contained a substantial amount of ethanol – to begin expelling a small amount of the liquid. Numerous crews, including a hazardous materials team, were called to the scene to help clear the wreckage. The driver has received a citation for improper lane usage.

Any Illinois truck accident lawyer will tell you that the United States Department of Transportation holds drivers of hazardous materials to strict regulations. These regulations are put in place to avoid the deadly accidents that often result from accidents involving these types of large commercial vehicles. The state of Illinois also provides regulations to the transportation of hazardous materials. Illinois has the ability to suspend or restrict a driver from transporting hazmat materials, as well as, impose a $10,000 fine to a driver or their employer if they are found in violation of federal or state regulations.