Who Is Responsible After A Chemical Spill?


Last month, several train cars carrying ethanol derailed just south of downtown Fort Worth. The ethanol not only caused a dangerous spill, but it also caught on fire, causing a dangerous situation for nearby residents. While the fire was put out and the chemical spill contained, the accident served as a reminder of the risks associated with transporting hazardous chemicals. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the accident and has yet to determine its cause. The investigation will likely take some time, as many parties who were involved in the transportation of the toxic substance could have made a mistake and caused the accident.

Transporting chemicals like ethanol does present risks, but these risks can be mitigated through following proper safety procedures. Because these chemicals undergo a long journey to their destination, there are more chances for something to go wrong. Sometimes problems that can lead to accidents stem from the initial loading of the cargo on the train or other vehicle for transportation. If not loaded correctly, cargo could shift or disrupt the balance of the vehicle, which could cause an accident.

Of course, even properly loaded cargo could be involved in an accident if the railroad tracks are improperly maintained. Because most railroad tracks are used regularly, the tracks can become misaligned or otherwise potentially dangerous to trains. Parties responsible for maintaining train tracks need to conduct regular inspections and perform repairs as quickly as possible. Train conductors themselves can also cause accidents if they are not operating trains carefully. Traveling too quickly around curves, not paying attention to upcoming hazards, or braking too quickly can cause trains to come off of the tracks and cause an accident.

Who Is Responsible After A Chemical Spill?

Just because a chemical spill has occurred does not mean the spill was caused by negligence. While the public might want a quick answer as to who is at fault, the reality is that determining liability takes time. There may be multiple parties responsible or none at all. In order to determine this, a thorough investigation will need to take place.

Texas Environmental Lawyers

The Texas environmental lawyers at MehaffyWeber understand how the public and government agencies can put pressure on chemical companies and manufactures after an accident. We thoroughly investigate and address all legal issues related to chemical spills and protect our clients’ interests in litigation. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our Texas environmental lawyers.