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Report: Asbestos Hinders Deadly Train Crash Investigation

As many may have heard, a commuter train recently crashed in New Jersey, resulting in the death of a woman who was standing on the station platform at the time, as well as the injury of more than 100 people.   The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is currently investigating the cause of the deadly train accident, but they have run into a roadblock of sorts in their investigation, and that roadblock is the presence of deadly asbestos fibers, according to a recent news feature from NBC News.

asbestosWhat investigators do know as of this time is that the train entered the Hoboken station at a very high rate of speed.  Passengers on the train noticed they were traveling very fast and realized something was not right. The train did not engage its brakes and crashed at this high rate of speed.  Once witness said he saw the train had hit a large pylon and then crashed into a stationary store in the station.  There were over a hundred people on the train and wandering around the station.  Many of these victims were covered in blood and were described as being dazed by those who saw them, including first responders.

The NTSB is not sure why the train was coming into the station at such a high rate of speed. The agency said it will review the black box data and then it will conduct an interview of the engineer.  This black box is said to be similar to what we think of as a black box on a commercial airliner that contains a lot of information about the train, including its speed and what controls were pressed.  They like to review the data prior to doing an interview, so it can guide them on what questions to ask and help assess the truthfulness of a person being interviewed.

However, the black box is a part of the locomotive that should be accessible, but during the crash the old station was heavily damaged.  This damage led to deadly asbestos fibers being introduced into the air.  This has been confirmed by air quality tests that have confirmed the presence of asbestos fibers at a level high enough that NTSB would be not be allowed to send in workers to locate the black box.   The levels were so high that the NTSB recovery workers were instructed to leave the damaged station and not come back until the dust has been controlled.

As our Boston asbestos attorneys can explain, this work should only be completed by a licensed asbestos abatement firm that can used trained and licensed workers to make the area safe.  These workers must be wearing full body protective clothing and use respirators or ventilators.  The area must also be masked during the cleanup process to contain the deadly asbestos fibers, and the material should be wet to suppress the dust.  They should also use approved vacuums with HEPA filters to contain the dust that has escaped into the air.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Hoboken Crash: Feds Can’t Reach Black Box, Camera Because of Asbestos, Sources Say, October 1, 2016, By Tom Costello and Elisha Fieldstadt, NBC News

More Blog Entries:

New Effort to Strengthen Asbestos Litigation, June 28, 2016, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog