A recent 18-wheeler hazardous materials accident in Alabama caused a chemical spill, fires and an explosion that prompted the evacuation of West Birmingham neighborhoods.
While the scale of the accident is a sobering reminder of the havoc that 18-wheeler hazardous material accidents can cause, there are conflicting reports on how this accident happened. The latest research indicates that there is at least the possibility that the truck carrying such hazardous materials was not allowed to be on that part of I-20/59, but in any case, one report indicated that two 18-wheelers were traveling north along I-20/59 when one of the trucks hit the other. That 18-wheeler drove away from the scene, while the 18-wheeler who was hit had its trailer knocked loose in the wreck.
A later report suggested that only one truck was involved and that the truck hit something, which is the catalyst that knocked the chemicals loose. After the collision, the uninjured driver then noticed a leaking container that contained hydrogen peroxide, sodium hydroxide, toluene and sulfuric acid. These chemicals pose a public safety hazard, which is why hazmat teams were dispatched to safely clean the spill.
Either way, the truck eventually caught fire and exploded, prompting the aforementioned evacuations. Reporters discerned that the accident happened near the Arkadelphia Road exit, and Alabama code states that I-459 from I-20/59 in Northeast Birmingham to Southwest should be used instead of the route the truck took when hazardous materials are involved. Astonishingly, the Alabama Department of Transportation admitted that hazardous material routes do indeed exist, but they are rarely enforced.
This could lead to a lawsuit based on the violation of state safety regulations and hazardous materials procedures. Additionally, carriers of hazardous materials in Alabama must also comply with federal regulations and guidelines.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that carriers of hazardous materials must:
- Have Valid Shipping Papers
- Have Loading and Unloading Documentation
- Placard and Mark Their Vehicle
- Have Proper Security Plans and Employee Training Procedures
- Responsibly Report Incidents
- And More
If any of these requirements were violated, the truck driver or company could be legally responsible for resulting harms as well. Carrying hazardous materials is a weighty responsibility, which is why federal and state laws have been put in place that rigidly require drivers and trucking companies to follow these safety regulations. In the recent accident, if any of these regulations were ignored (as reports seem to suggest), the driver or the company liable for damages and harms sustained by people and property.
Noel B. Leonard has successfully represented 18-wheeler hazardous material accident victims in Baldwin, Mobile and Escambia Counties for years. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a hazardous materials accident in the city of Foley and/or Baldwin, Mobile or Escambia Counties, contact Noel B. Leonard or call 251-732-2701 for a legal consultation.