(Long View, North Carolina – May 14, 2012)
A semi-trailer truck hauling bags of disodium trioxosilicate was crushed by a Norfolk Southern freight train shortly after 8:00 A.M. Monday morning when it became high-centered on the elevated crossing of NS railroad tracks and 33rd Street, NW in Long View, NC, triggering hazardous material recovery operations response to the accident scene.
The crossing is equipped with flashing lights, bells and gates, but what it lacked could have prevented the accident: an MUTCD-recommended W10-5 “Low Ground Clearance” warning sign to warn the drivers of 18-wheelers and other vehicles requiring a less profiled approach to and passage over railroad tracks.
Driving through a heavy rain, Long View Police Officer Raymond Denton came upon the situation prior to the presence of any train, and contacted railroad authorities in a vain attempt to stop any approaching train traffic. But as an answer to his plea for halting trains, “They (Norfolk Southern) called back and said they couldn’t get the train stopped, to get off the tracks,” recalled Denton.
Disodium trixosilicate, which is used as a soft metal cleaner and degreaser, is a corrosive chemical that is known to cause severe skin burns, eye damage and the risk of respiratory irritation, and is reactive to water, which was present in abundance due to the downpour.
Although no injuries were reported, HazMat teams worked for six hours to clean up the spilled, diluted chemical and to secure the safety of the area.
The truck was owned by CRST Expedited of Cedar Rapids, IA, and was being operated by Timothy Brooks, 50, and Gregory Nagel, 57, both from Texas.