Hazardous Materials Expert Witnesses

What areas do hazardous materials expert witnesses consult on? These experts write reports and testify on hazardous materials transported by train, tank car, truck, vessel, or by airplane. The U.S. Department of Transportation is investigating a train that derailed in northeastern Montana and spilled an estimated 35,000 gallons of crude oil.  DOT transportation specialist Michael J. Turnbull says a hazardous materials team used earthen dams to contain the spill near Culbertson, MT. While no waterways were affected by oil, about 30 people were evacuated. Burlington Northern Santa Fe officials reported that 3 of 22 cars that derailed were leaking oil.

In addition to the 2013 Lac-Megantic disaster, trains hauling crude from the Bakken region have been involved in fiery derailments in six states.  On May 1, 2015, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a final rule for the safe transportation of flammable liquids by rail. The final rule, developed by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), in coordination with Canada, focuses on safety improvements that are designed to prevent accidents, mitigate consequences in the event of an accident, and support emergency response.

The rule:

  1. Unveils a new, enhanced tank car standard and an aggressive, risk-based retrofitting schedule for older tank cars carrying crude oil and ethanol;
  2. Requires a new braking standard for certain trains that will offer a superior level of safety by potentially reducing the severity of an accident, and  the “pile-up effect”;
  3. Designates new operational protocols for trains transporting large volumes of flammable liquids, such as routing requirements, speed restrictions, and information for local government agencies; and
  4. Provides new sampling and testing requirements to improve classification of energy products placed into transport.



About Karen Olson

Information Professional with twenty years experience in legal, public record, and business research. Fifteen years law firm experience.

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!