Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Train Derailment Spills Dangerous Chemicals in D.C.

Posted by Charles Gilman | May 03, 2016 | 0 Comments

As if traffic in Washington D.C. could get any worse, a freight train derailed in the northeastern section of the city on Sunday, causing delays in train traffic. More importantly, though, no one was hurt. However, the derailment caused several of the cars to leak hazardous materials, causing some local residents to evacuate their homes. As with any chemical leakage in such a populated area, the accident poses a risk to people who live near the crash site, who might find themselves sickened by the spill.

Train Derails

The train derailment happened at 6:40am on Sunday, May 1st, near the intersection of Ninth Street and Rhode Island Avenue in the northeastern section of the city and within miles of the White House. The train, owned by CSX Transportation, was headed from Cumberland, Maryland to Hamlet, North Carolina. There were 175 cars on the train, though 81 were empty, 14 of the cars left the tracks. The conductor and engineer, who were both onboard the train at the time of the derailment, were not injured in the accident.

The derailment caused a tanker car carrying 15,500 gallons of sodium hydroxide to spill roughly half of its contents on and around the tracks.

Sodium hydroxide is a chemical similar to bleach or Drano, and is used to make things like soaps, explosives, and petroleum products. When it is at room temperature, sodium hydroxide is an odorless, white substance that is usually in either the form of flakes, grains, or small beads. One of its primary purposes is to absorb moisture from the air. This makes the chemical especially dangerous when it interacts with water, which can make it heat up enough to catch combustible material on fire. Importantly, at the time of the derailment and spillage, it was raining heavily in the Washington D.C. area.

Even when it is not interacting with water, though, sodium hydroxide is a dangerous substance. If you become exposed to sodium hydroxide, you could experience irritated eyes, burning skin, swelling lungs, and can lose some of your hair.

While officials have said that there are no issues with the air or the water quality at the scene, the crash is still under investigation. Further, it is hard to believe that spilling nearly 8,000 gallons of such a dangerous chemical in a densely populated area will not have any impact.

Baltimore and Washington D.C. Personal Injury Attorneys

Train crashes can cause serious personal injuries, not only during the accident but in the aftermath. This is made even more likely when dangerous chemicals like sodium hydroxide are spilled during the accident, especially when they are spilled in such large quantities.

If you experience ill effects in the aftermath of a nearby train derailment or any chemical leak, get in touch with skilled personal injury attorneys like Gilman & Bedigian. They will fight for your interest in and out of court, to make sure you receive the compensation that you deserve. Contact our law office online or at (800) 529-6162.

About the Author

Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.


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