SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – All types of cargo are transported through our area everyday but some of them can have dangerous, even deadly consequences in an accident.
Hazardous materials can be everything from a can of paint to liquid nitrogen, and everything in between. Transporting it safely is a top concern and the 22News I-Team took a closer look at whats being done to keep us safe.
“You never know what’s in those things. Especially so close to Westover, you never know what kind of fuels or chemicals are going in there,” said Chicopee’s Daniel Filinowich.
Accidents do happen. You may remember the time 40,000 pounds of sulfuric acid spilled in Blandford or the time a train carrying flammable liquids derailed in a West Springfield neighborhood. It’s why the I-Team started investigating and watching Massachusetts State Police conduct inspections to find out what other dangerous chemicals move through our area everyday.
“There are materials that are in these trucks that will literally burn your skin off,” said State Police Trooper John Bates. When they’re not handled properly, they can have deadly consequences. According to U.S. Department of Transportation data, 27 people were killed in hazardous material-related incidents last year.
The I-Team discovered there were 200 hazardous materials incidents just in Massachusetts last year blamed on things like improper transportation, rollover accidents, and plain and simple human error. It’s why State Police Trooper Jonathon Bates says inspecting cargo is a crucial part of his job. “Like in this case corrosive material, we obviously don’t want corrosive material running down onto the roadway,” Trooper Bates added.
The top most common incidents involve corrosive material or combustible liquids. “There are materials that cannot be combined with water. They’ll spontaneously combust if they get water with them.”
Carriers are supposed to be marked with placards so that first responders know what they are in for when there is an accident, but not everyone complies, and according to Bates, not even the drivers themselves always know what they’re hauling. “Some companies don’t allow their drivers to see the load they’re transporting. The trailer is sealed at the loading dock.”
He says it’s one more reason for drivers to pay attention while on the road and become familiar with the companies that haul through your neighborhood.
The 22News I-Team can help you do that. The PHMSA website allows you to look up recent hazardous materials incidents including the company involved, where and when the incident happened.