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Rail Workers Exposed to Radioactive Substances-Evidence Is Mounting

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  • Rail Workers Exposed to Radioactive Substances-Evidence Is Mounting

    Our firm has been representing railroad workers (transport workers including engineers, switchmen, conductors, etc.) who have various health illnesses such as cancer and blood cancer due to being exposed to radioactive substances moved by railroads in-and-out of a nuclear weapons and uranium enrichment nuclear plants/facilities. Many facilities, in TN, OH and other parts of the nation, were involved in the major efforts required to build nuclear weapons, and many programs were secret and classified.

    Beginning as early as the 1960s, a number of the nation’s railroads were moving radioactive cargo, enriched uranium, and a wide variety of other dangerous radioactive materials by railroad/train. The problem is that many of the railroads did not provide any basic level of industrial safety protection for railroad workers involved in these activities on a daily basis.


    Our firm learned that at least one major railroad company had virtually no radiation worker protection program during a 30-year period stretching from the 1960s into the 1990s. Workers with this railroad company routinely rode inside open-top gondola train cars with radioactive contamination inside closed metal barrels, or often inside cars loaded to the top edge with radioactively contaminate metal scrap. And in case you’re wondering, there are no obvious indicators of alpha or gamma radioactivity emanating from these radioactive substances, so a worker is completely unaware of just how contaminated the materials are unless the railroad employer is actively screening the radioactive material. Our investigation shows that for decades a particular major railroad failed to do this essential type of inspection! When cancers later appear in a railroad worker, the question for medical doctors involves whether the railroad job exposed the worker to unsafe radiation.

    The radioactive contamination legacy of Oak Ridge, Tennessee (TN)
    We've been involved in investigating radioactive contamination that was transferred in-and-out of Oak Ridge, Tennessee (TN) National Laboratory/weapons facilities. We have learned, through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the Department of Energy as well as through subpoenas of documents from the State of Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation/Division of Radiological Health, about a troubling legacy of radioactive contamination originally traced to Oak Ridge, but involving decades of transport by CSX, Seaboard, and earlier, the L & N railroads.
    Are there documents which show railroad companies exposed workers to radioactive contamination?
    Every geographical area has a different issue and every worker that worked near a nuclear weapons or uranium enrichment facility requires an analysis of what the occupational exposures may have been.

    Through FOIA requests and subpoenas of documents, we found clear evidence that uranium contaminated cargo as well as plutonium contaminated cargo traveled from the Oak Ridge, Tennessee (TN) facilities by railroads to various scrap yards that railroad workers routinely worked in and out of. One of the scrap yards in Tennessee (TN) that routinely received radioactive scrap and metal barrels became a Tennessee Superfund site and extensive inspection and sampling was done of soil and water. Also, various other facilities in other states provided uranium and radioactive substances either to Oak Ridge, or often shipped dangerous substances to Oak Ridge for permanent storage.

    The soil and water testing, as recently as 2007, showed levels of plutonium (an extremely toxic, carcinogenic radioactive isotope) in the soil and water at the Knoxville area scrapyard that exceeded at least three times the natural level. This showed that clearly plutonium contaminated scrap had been transferred to the scrap yard and we had other evidence that proved that the only two sources of transport were railroad train cars or trucks but in either case railroad workers would have been exposed to the materials. It takes careful investigation in order to prove what exposures may have occurred in relation to a weapons facility or a uranium enrichment facility that was serviced by railroad workers. We offer free, confidential initial consultations. Please contact our law firm immediately to determine if you meet the criteria for acceptance of your claim. Statutes of limitation apply to all claims under the FELA against railraod employers.

    What is the law regarding radioactive substances and railroad work?
    There is a basic premise of railroad law that the more dangerous and toxic a substance is, the more vigilant and careful a railroad company must be in inspecting and protecting the worker from the propensities of a dangerous substance (radiation is technically a “physical agent” as isotopes of radioactivity are what damages the body’s cells). Also, it is fundamental that railroad companies have a duty to warn and a duty to inspect. This duty extends to all of the places that a railroad company utilizes including industrial sidings, the premises owned by third-parties and anywhere else it sends its railroad workers. The duty to inspect extends not only to the railroad’s own equipment, but to any equipment that the railroad uses, whether owned by another company or the employing railroad. Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court has stated repeatedly that a railroad company has a “nondelegable duty” to provide a safe place to work to their employees. It cannot shift responsibility for those essential duties to a third party, particularly with any dangerous type of cargo that it is moving or handling.





    About Us: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton FELA/Railroad Injury Attorneys have authored hundreds of railroad and FELA articles on our main website, and have over 100 years combined injury law experience. Firm attorneys included among “The Best Lawyers in America” 2010 Edition and the law firm has the highest rating (AV) granted by Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating service.<o></o>
    Last edited by RShapiro; 11-10-2009, 08:55 AM.

  • #2
    Interesting and scarry! Say hey to TC Emory.....!
    sigpic ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ "Come and get them" Leonidas I to Xerxes, at Battle of Thermopylae

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