Many times, the hazards of an Illinois chemical spill can be contained within an industrial facility, where employees are prepared to deal with the situation at hand. But what if the chemical containment fails outside of the manufacturing facility? This is exactly what the railroads are faced with as they look to avoid a future industrial accident involving toxic chemicals and a common tanker known to have a potentially explosive effect.
Known technically as the DOT-111, the tanker is commonly seen riding along the railroads transporting ethanol. What many don't know is that the tanker's outermost steel shell is too weak to safely carry the explosive ethanol products that it often carries. Furthermore, the ends are vulnerable to tears while the unloading valves and exposed tops of the tankers can be broken off if an accident happens.
This has produced several incidents in Illinois, which is a major producer of ethanol. In one accident, a train derailed after a storm washed away a section of the railroad tracks that the crew members had not known about. When they looked back, they saw that one of the tankers had exploded. While the explosion didn't affect the workers this instance, it did kill a bystander and injure several others.
So far, the ethanol fuel industry has not stepped up to retrofit these tankers to make them safe, despite the potential for an industrial accident. This potentially leaves workers exposed to the risk of catastrophic injury and even death. Those hurt in such a manner may rely on workers' compensation benefits to protect them financially from medical expenses and related costs that could rapidly accrue should an on-the-job injury occur. These important employment benefits may play an important role in those who are injured as the companies affected search for safety methods to protect workers.
Source: Daily Herald, "Common rail car has dangerous flaw," Sep. 13, 2012