Hazmat Spill After Missouri Truck Crash Closes Highway Near Springfield

By March 13, 2009Trucking Accidents

U.S. Route 65 was closed for about three hours between Ozark and Springfield due to a Missouri trucking accident, the Springfield News-Leader reported March 5. The highway was closed after a tanker truck carrying a load of ammonium nitrate had a one-vehicle rollover accident, later determined to have been caused by a blown tire. The truck’s driver sustained serious injuries and was taken to the hospital. The truck itself wound up in the highway’s median, but authorities closed the entire road in both directions because of concerns about hazardous material spills. Fortunately, the only leak they found was antifreeze.
Ammonium nitrate is most commonly used as a fertilizer. But it was a serious concern for the Springfield accident responders, because it can be highly volatile when mixed with fuel or fire. In fact, the article said, the truck was carrying 500 gallons of diesel fuel along with its 24,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate. Together, these are the two main ingredients in “fertilizer bombs,” improvised explosives such as that used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Ammonium nitrate can also explode when it’s set on fire in a confined space, a distinct possibility in a serious Missouri trucking accident.
Accidents with large trucks carrying hazardous materials can pose a serious threat to the people around, even when the accident doesn’t involve any other vehicles. Hazmat trucks don’t crash any more often than other trucks, but when they do crash, they carry a greater risk of injuring bystanders and the community at large. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the government agency that licenses and regulates truckers, hazmat trucks spilled their cargo 50% more than other trucks between 1991 and 2000. Tankers like this one were by far the most likely to spill of any body type. During that time, contact with the hazmat — not the truck itself — killed an average of 12 people a year.
Judging by the article, this Missouri truck accident may have been caused solely by a tire that was poorly maintained or defective to begin with. If that’s the case, the trucking company for maintaining safe equipment could have been held responsible for any deaths and injuries that resulted. Trucking companies, and independent truckers, are legally liable for injuries in any truck accident caused by their own carelessness, including carelessness with equipment as well as poor driving decisions. Victims who were seriously hurt or lost a loved one as a result have the right to sue them for compensation for their financial, physical and emotional losses.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a trucking accident in Missouri, the Lowe Law Firm would like to help. Based in St. Louis and Belleville, Ill., the firm represents clients in Missouri and southern Illinois who have been seriously hurt by a trucking company’s or truck driver’s negligence. To set up a free consultation about your case, please contact us today.