Texas requires that trucks carrying hazardous materials obtain permits from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Additionally, motor carriers hauling certain types of hazardous waste must be registered with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration also requires registrations for transporters of specified hazardous materials. Railroads are governed by similar regulations. In short, the transportation of hazardous materials is highly regulated, both in Texas and other states.
Regulations and Permits Don’t Prevent All Truck Spill Accidents
Despite this, accidents that injure individuals and cause economic and environmental damage continue to occur. Last month, a farm truck carrying herbicide containers was involved in an accident that spilled the herbicide and sent the driver to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. In Indiana, a truck spilled hundreds of gallons of raw sewage last February.
In Texas, an accident near Refugio caused a FedEx truck to tip over, caused the chemicals it was carrying to mix, creating hydrochloric acid and smoke. Exposure to hydrochloric acid can cause breathing problems, headaches and nausea. A train derailment in East Texas spilled liquid petroleum gas, causing the community of Longview. Two tanker trucks collided in Amarillo last November, spilling corrosive materials onto the roadway. A cattle truck crashed near Corpus Christi in May, killing some of the cattle and spilling manure and other waste across the highway.
Even when a truck is not carrying hazardous material, an accident can still release diesel fuel into the environment. This happened in January near Houston, when fuel tanks were punctured when a truck overturned.
Rail Accidents Another Source of Hazardous Spills
This blog and other media sources have frequently reported on the dangers of rail tankers carrying the light crude that is produced by fracking operations. Numerous derailments have created significant fires and waterway spills across the country.
It comes down to this: Even when significant permitting rules and other safety regulations governing the transportation of hazardous materials exist, they do not prevent accidents caused by truck drivers speeding or driving unsafely or by poor truck and road maintenance. Similarly, they do not prevent spill accidents caused by poor railroad tracks and oil tankers that do not meet current safety standards.