Chemical Train Crash Scares DC

A CSX train carrying at least three different chemicals derailed and crashed near Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast DC yesterday. The crash ruptured the rail tankers and spilled sodium hydroxide. Rhode Island Avenue was closed, as was the Capital Crescent Bike Trail. No word yet from CSX how long the clean up will take. Luckily, no personal injuries were reported.

This news follows closely a report in the Washington Post that cracked rails in the DC Metro had gone unnoticed by Metro inspectors. One such cracked rail caused a Metro train to derail last month. The cracked rails were found by federal inspectors from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

In another incident last week, a third rail insulator literally exploded at the Federal Center Southwest Station. Video from a
startled passenger went viral, leading a “safety stand down” order from the FTA. Whether these FTA orders have any effect on the lax safety culture on Metro is anyone’s guess.

The FTA also found other Metro safety violations, including broken fire extinguishers, debris and rubbish blocking emergency exits, and faulty power switches. Fire and smoke emergencies are the main worry, along with train operators running red lights, as well as track safety issues.

The CSX derailment causes further angst about rail accidents in DC, Maryland & Virginia. The old Virginia Avenue Tunnel, built in 1906, is slated for a major upgrade this year, allowing CSX to carry more cargo – including hazardous cargo – through downtown DC, where a derailment could be extremely dangerous.

One thing is certain, Washingtonians are demanding better and more rail safety from Metro, CSX and the FTA.

Zukerberg & Halperin, PLLC is a full service law firm with an emphasis on protecting the rights of negligence victims. Call our Washington DC injury lawyers if you have been a victim of personal injury.