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The Risk of Truck Accident-Related Ethanol Spills

Truck transporting ethanol

In their efforts to find renewable fuels for powering our vehicles, many vehicle manufacturers have started producing cars that require the use of ethanol, which is made from corn and other plant materials. Ethanol production relies heavily on farms in the Midwest, which means that it must be transported (usually via truck) to companies and individuals across the country. Unfortunately, safely transporting ethanol is difficult and any accident involving a truck that is carrying ethanol could result in a spill and devastating injuries. 

How is Ethanol Transported?

In most cases, ethanol is transported either via train or large tanker truck, and a lot can be transported at once. For instance, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that a single tanker truck can transport between 8,000 and 10,000 gallons of ethanol in one trip. This means that a large amount of the ethanol being transported from production facilities in the midwest is making its way across the country via freeways and highways, which puts anyone else on the roadway at risk of serious injury in the event of a collision, rollover, or spill. 

Why are Ethanol Spills Dangerous?

Tanker trucks are responsible for carrying a lot of gaseous and liquid substances across the U.S. Ethanol, however, is one of the most dangerous, as it is considered a hazardous material and is extremely flammable if exposed to an open flame, torn electrical wire, or other chemical. Besides the risk of deadly fires and explosions, accident victims could also suffer from serious health effects if exposed to ethanol, including:

  • Headaches;
  • Difficulty breathing; and
  • Eye irritation. 

Ethanol is also a dangerous environmental hazard that can impact local aquatic systems, drinking water, and plant and animal life. To ensure that it is transported safely, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires drivers to obtain a permit to carry it. Unfortunately, despite these requirements, ethanol spills continue to occur at an alarming rate across the U.S. and often involve tanker trucks. 

What Causes Ethanol Spills?

Cargo spills are often attributable to truck driver error, such as:

  • Driving recklessly by making sudden stops and sharp turns, or speeding;
  • Swerving, which can cause rollovers and subsequent spills;
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • Driver fatigue; and
  • Driving a poorly sealed or maintained truck. 

Trucking companies themselves could also be at fault for an ethanol spill if they fail to hire qualified drivers, don’t train their drivers to carry hazardous materials, or fail to receive the necessary FMCSA or Department of Transportation (DOT) certifications. Claimants who can prove that their ethanol spill accident was the result of this kind of negligence, could be entitled to compensation for their losses. 

Reach Out to an Experienced Miami Truck Accident Attorney 

To speak with a dedicated and skilled Miami truck accident lawyer about your own recovery options following a serious accident, please call Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein at 305-371-2692 today. You can also reach a member of our legal team 24 hours a day via online message.