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Toxic Materials Attorney

Have you been injured by exposure to toxic materials?

Rail yards provide maintenance, repairs and overhauls for their engines and rail cars. Current regulations mean that each engine will probably be out of service about every three months for inspection. When this happens, railroad operators usually take the opportunity to do maintenance and typically employ many of the available rail yard facilities to perform upkeep on these pieces of equipment.

These procedures can contribute to serious pollution in rail yards. This becomes more significant when you understand that many rail yards have been in service long before many Federal and state regulations. They have also been through many different owners. Because of this history, workers are faced with a workplace that for decades has been a dumping ground for all types of hazardous materials.

Types of Rail Yard Contamination

The rail industry’s maintenance and repair techniques have not changed much throughout its operational history, and the hazardous materials have not changed either.

The list of hazardous materials from maintenance operations can include:

  • Asbestos
  • Brake and hydraulic fluid
  • Locomotive coolant
  • Oil
  • Effluents and heavy metals from lead, cadmium and nickel batteries
  • Lead and other heavy metals
  • Diesel fuel
  • Industrial grade solvents
  • Paint
  • Thinners
  • Residual cargo materials that have been improperly handled, such as those from tank car maintenance


The railroad is a major transporter of bulk chemicals and industrial raw materials. As such, the railroad is responsible for the movement of a variety of cargo classified as hazardous materials, or HAZMAT.

Some of the classes of HAZMAT transported by railroad include:

  • "Toxic Inhalation Hazards" (TIH). This class of materials includes chemicals such as chlorine and anhydrous ammonia
  • Heavy metals associated with the use of coal and the disposal of coal ashes
  • Explosives
  • Petrochemicals such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)
  • Acids and corrosives

Examples of substances transported by rail that have a HAZMAT classification are listed below. These chemicals can comprise the cargo being transported, or they can be a component of that cargo.

  • Pentachlorophenol (PCPs)
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Sodium borate and sodium nitrate
  • Ethyl benzene
  • Xylene
  • Vinyl Chloride
  • Trichloroethane
  • Trichloroethene
  • Methylene Chloride
  • Asbestos
  • Arsenic
  • Lead
  • Chrysene
  • Naphthalene
  • Dichlorobenzene
  • Benzene
  • Toluene
  • Creosote

Railroad Injuries

Radioactive materials have been shipped in the United States for more than fifty years. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that each year, roughly three million packages containing radioactive materials are transported by trucks, trains, boats and barges, and airplanes. The packages may contain products or wastes, including pharmaceuticals, industrial gauges, laboratory materials and low-level, high-level, and transuranic radioactive wastes.

Strict packaging requirements govern the shipment of radioactive materials. While the chances of a transportation accident are small, an accident that results in a spill could result in an expensive cleanup and/or unnecessary exposure to workers or the public. Strict requirements help ensure against radioactive material spills or releases, but transportation accidents cannot be predicted.

Injury and diseases caused by direct or indirect exposure to hazardous substances can be difficult to prove. An experienced injury lawyer at Arnold & Itkin LLP can help you build a strong and persuasive case to protect your rights and wellbeing during this time.

If you would like to learn more through a free consultation with our firm, contact an injury attorney at Arnold & Itkin LLP.

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