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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-82-002
Details
Synopsis: ON SEPTEMBER 15, 1981, A NORTHBOUND TRUCK TRACTOR-CARGO TANK SEMITRAILER LOADED WITH 8,986 GALLONS OF GASOLINE WAS STRUCK BY A WESTBOUND FREIGHT TRAIN AT A RAILROAD/ HIGHWAY GRADE CROSSING ON JORDAN LANE IN HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA. THE GASOLINE CARGO ESCAPING FROM THE RUPTURED CARGO TANK SPLASHED OVER THE LOCOMOTIVE AND FOUR PASSENGER CARS THAT HAD STOPPED NORTH OF THE TRACK TO AWAIT THE TRAIN'S PASSAGE, AND IGNITED. AT THE TIME, THE CROSSING WARNING RED LIGHTS WERE FLASHING AND THE BELL WAS RINGING, AND ITS WHISTLE WAS SOUNDING. FIVE PERSONS WERE KILLED, TWO PERSONS DIED LATER AS A RESULT OF THEIR INJURIES, AND FOUR OF FIVE TRAIN CREWMEMBERS WERE INJURED.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE STATE OF ALABAMA: STUDY THE ROUTES AVAILABLE FOR TRAVEL BY CARRIERS OF BULK HAZARDOUS MATERIALS ON STATE HIGHWAYS IN CONGESTED AREAS, PARTICULARLY RELATIVE TO EXPOSURE TO RAILROAD CROSSINGS, FOR THE PURPOSE OF RESTRICTING TRAVEL TO DESIGNATED ROUTES INVOLVING THE FEWEST SAFETY HAZARDS AND ASSIST COUNTIES AND CITIES IN CONDUCTING SIMILAR EVALUATIONS OF COUNTY AND CITY ROADWAYS.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Highway
Location: Huntsville, AL, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA81AH010
Accident Reports: ​Miller Transporters Inc., Tractor Cargo Tank Semitrailer/Southern Railway System Freight Train Collision and Fire
Report #: RHR-82-01
Accident Date: 9/15/1981
Issue Date: 3/25/1982
Date Closed: 1/31/1994
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: State of Alabama (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Hazmat

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: State of Alabama
Date: 1/31/1994
Response: THE BOARD RECENTLY CONTACTED THE MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY UNIT OF THE ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND THE ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND WAS TOLD THAT ALABAMA HAS NO STATE ROUTING REQUIREMENTS FOR HAZARDOUS MATERIALS. THEREFORE, SAFETY RECOMMENDATION H-82-2 IS CLASSIFIED "CLOSED--UNACCEPTABLE ACTION." SHOULD THERE BE ANY INFORMATION THAT WE HAVE NOT CONSIDERED, PLEASE PROVIDE IT TO THE BOARD AND THE STATUS OF THIS RECOMMENDATION WILL BE REVIEWED.

From: NTSB
To: State of Alabama
Date: 8/17/1983
Response: The Safety Board appreciates receiving the information concerning the efforts of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), Traffic Engineering Subcommittee, in evaluating the criteria for the designation of alternative travel routes for the transportation of hazardous materials. We note for your information that the Federal Highway Administration has produced an implementation package based on the research by Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Company. We have enclosed a copy of this package for your use. Our file for this recommendation will be held in an "open-Acceptable Action" status pending further response from Alabama concerning its possible use of the AASHTO guidelines on routing procedures for carriers of bulk hazardous materials.

From: State of Alabama
To: NTSB
Date: 6/8/1983
Response: GOVERNOR OF ALABAMA LETTER: REGARDING DESIGNATING ROUTES FOR TRAVEL BY CARRIERS OF BULK HAZARDOUS MATERIALS IN LOCAL JURISDICTIONS, THIS MATTER IS ONE OF MAJOR CONCERN NOT ONLY BY THE STATE OF ALABAMA BUT ALSO ON A NATIONAL SCALE. AS YOU MAY KNOW THE ROUTING OF CARRIERS WITHIN A CITY JURISDICTION, SUCH AS GASOLINE TRUCKS, PRESENTS AN EXTREMELY DIFFICULT PROBLEM AS TRUCKS OF THIS NATURE MUST SERVICE THEIR DESTINATIONS GENERALLY BY THE MOST DIRECT ROUTE. EXPERIENCE HAS SHOWN THAT REROUTING MAY PRESENT AN EVEN MORE DANGEROUS CIRCUMSTANCES BY CREATING OTHER POTENTIAL HAZARDS SUCH AS EXPOSURE TO SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS, ETC. THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION HAS RECOGNIZED THE SERIOUSNESS OF THIS MATTER AND HAS COMMISSIONED VARIOUS STUDIES IN AN EFFORT TO PROVIDE A SOLUTION. A RECENT RESEARCH REPORT PREPARED BY PEAT, MARWICH, MITCHELL AND COMPANY DATED MAY 1980 ENTITLED "DEVELOPMENT OF CRITERIA TO DESIGNATE ROUTES FOR TRANSPORTING HAZARDOUS MATERIALS" ATTEMPTED TO DEFINE A METHOD BY WHICH THIS MAY BE ACCOMPLISHED. HOWEVER, THE MATTER HAS RECEIVED WIDE ATTENTION BY VARIOUS GROUPS, ONE OF WHICH IS THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF STATE HIGHWAY AND TRANSPORTATION OFFICIALS. A SUBCOMMITTEE OF THAT GROUP KNOWN AS THE TRAFFIC ENGINEERING SUBCOMMITTEE HAS MADE A STUDY OF THE AFOREMENTIONED REPORT AS WELL AS OTHER RESEARCH IN THE AREA. THE AASHTO GROUP HAS NOT FORMULATED A GUIDE FOR THE STATES AT THIS TIME, WE BELIEVE IT TO BE IN OUR BEST INTEREST TO RECEIVE INFORMATION ON THIS MATTER FROM AASHTO TO GUIDE US IN WHATEVER ROUTING PROCEDURE IS DEVELOPED.

From: NTSB
To: State of Alabama
Date: 5/19/1983
Response: On March 25, 1982, the Safety Board issued Safety Recommendations H-82-1 through -3 to the State of Alabama. These Safety Recommendations were issued as a result of its investigation of the collision of a freight train and a tractor cargo tank-semitrailer transporting gasoline at a railroad/highway grade crossing on Jordan Lane in Huntsville, Alabama, on September 15, 1981. The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent Federal agency with the statutory responsibility "…to promote transportation safety by conducting independent accident investigations and by formulating safety improvement recommendations" (Public Law 93-633). The Safety Board is vitally interested in any actions taken as a result of its safety recommendations. Our records show that we have not received any indication of action taken by the State of Alabama regarding the recommended actions. We would appreciate being informed as to what efforts were made to implement the above recommendations. The Safety Board's letter including these recommendations is enclosed for your information.