CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The railroad system in America is getting a lot of attention since the toxic derailment in Ohio. However, what about the hazardous materials being transported on our roads here in the Commonwealth? The surprising fact is that while train derailments get more headlines, highway crashes involving hazardous materials are more frequent and deadly.
Data from the Federal Railroad Administration shows that over the span of 12 years, hazardous materials released in rail accidents resulted 14 deaths, while highway crashes involving the transport of hazardous materials resulted in a total of 116 deaths.
In the state of Massachusetts, truckers who transport hazardous materials are required to meet additional standards above their commercial driver’s license. They must take a written exam and pass a transportation security administration threat assessment and background check. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2022 there were just under 24,000 incidents involving hazardous materials and most of the injured were transportation workers.
The majority of incidents occurred with flammable liquids, like gasoline or fuel oil. Trucks use placards to identify a hazardous shipment. The placards are organized by class; class one being explosives, class two gases, class three flammable or combustible liquids, and go all the way up to class 6 toxic and poison inhalation hazard to radioactive and simply dangerous.
So far this calendar year, Massachusetts has reported a total of 9 hazmat violations as a result from roadside inspections.