Baltimore Utility Fined over $400K

Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) was recently fined over $400,000 as a result of a huge 2019 gas explosion that destroyed a shopping center (BGE is fined $400,000+ in explosion that blew apart Columbia shopping center). The Maryland Public Service Commission found that the explosion “was the result of both a violation of gas and electric regulations.” 

According to the Commission’s report, BGE was in violation of a number of state and federal statutes and regulations, including failure to comply with “the minimum separation of the underground lines specified for joint trench installations in its internal standards.” The utility company was also ordered to determine whether an additional 1,250 sites need to be remediated.

Despite this, BGE is continuing its pattern of denying responsibility for gas explosions. Mere days after being fined, BGE placed the blame for a fatal 2020 gas explosion in northwest Baltimore solely on its customer (Source of fatal 2020 gas explosion traced to stove). 

The day before the explosion, a licensed contractor made some repairs to the HVAC system in the home, which apparently led to a spike in gas levels. When the stove was eventually turned on, the gas ignited, killing two people and injuring seven others.

BGE released a statement absolving itself of all responsibility while placing the blame entirely on the victims. “Equipment beyond the meter – including natural gas appliances – is the responsibility of the customer,” the statement read. “This incident is a very tragic reminder of the importance of natural gas safety. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost loved ones and others affected by this incident.”

BGE expects their non-expert customers to ensure their own safety while it pumps lethal gas into their homes for enormous profits. To no one’s surprise, a billion-dollar corporation is once again refusing to take responsibility for the tragic consequences of its own negligence by blaming the victims. We must hold these companies accountable for the damage they cause to everyday Americans in their endless pursuit of profits.

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a natural gas explosion, it is crucial that you hire an experienced attorney to protect your rights. Please call DBJ today at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation.

 

USDOT to Provide Face Coverings for American Transportation Passengers

The United States government recently announced a plan to send almost 100 million cloth facial coverings for passenger use to the aviation, transit, and passenger rail transportation sectors (Federal Government to Distribute Nearly 100 Million Cloth Facial Coverings for Transportation Passengers). Approximately 86.8 million face coverings will be disbursed to airports, while 9.6 million will be allocated to 458 transit agencies and Amtrak

This Administration is committed to protecting our people and reopening the economy,” said United States Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao. “Distributing these facial coverings will help boost public confidence as we begin to resume our normal lives.”

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), in combination with the United States Department of Homeland Security and United States Department of Health and Human Services, has been working with states, industries, and stakeholders to make certain that American travelers have access to cloth facial coverings. Obtained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), these face coverings will be distributed to airports, transit agencies, and Amtrak via the United States Postal Service. 

This new apportionment of nearly 100 million face coverings for passenger use is in addition to more than 15 million cloth facial coverings that had been previously announced for critical transportation infrastructure workers

As determined by established guidelines formulated by airlines, airports, transit agencies, and passenger rail authorities, passengers will still be responsible for providing their own face coverings. The additional face coverings announced by USDOT are intended to supplement those already in use and availability for all passengers is not guaranteed.

In response to the public health emergency created by COVID-19, USDOT has emphasized maintaining safe and operational transportation systems in order to allow the American economy to recover. A comprehensive list of responsive measures, including stakeholder outreach and guidance, expanded federal financial assistance, and regulatory relief, is available at transportation.gov/coronavirus.

Hopefully, USDOT’s efforts will help make American travel safer during the coronavirus pandemic, because we learned long ago that we can’t depend on the transportation industry to prioritize safety over profits. If you have been injured in a railroad accident, it is critical that you hire an experienced attorney. Please call DBJ today at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation.

NTSB Updates Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently updated the list of safety recommendations from its 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements (8 Safety Recommendations Closed from NTSB’s 2019-2020 Most Wanted List). The publishing of the updated list followed the closure of eight safety recommendations.

Four safety recommendations were closed with acceptable action taken, one was closed with acceptable alternate action taken, one was closed with a status of exceeds recommended action, and another was regrettably closed with unacceptable action taken. One additional safety recommendation was closed because it was superseded by a subsequent recommendation that remains open.

Closing safety recommendations with acceptable action taken, resulting in improved transportation safety, is the goal of issuing and advocating for a safety recommendation,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. “Our safety recommendations are founded in the science of our accident investigations and are designed to prevent similar future accidents. Transportation safety is improved when recipients of our safety recommendations take acceptable action. While I’m pleased to highlight this success, I also have to highlight how much more work remains to be done.”

The closed safety recommendations addressed the following pipeline, highway, and aviation safety issues:

  • pipeline dent repairs and leak detection
  • incorrect installation of mechanical tapping tee assemblies
  • passenger safety briefings regarding seat belt use in limousines
  • NTSB access to all positive drug and alcohol test results and refusal determinations conducted under DOT testing requirements
  • use of the Aviation Digital Data Service Weather Tool as an official weather product for helicopter emergency medical services
  • management of the risk of operating amphibious passenger vehicles in compliance with U.S. Coast Guard guidance
  • establishment of an ongoing program to monitor, evaluate, report on, and continuously improve fatigue management programs implemented by motor carriers

The NTSB is an independent federal agency charged with promoting transportation safety. Through its 30th annual Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements, the NTSB has identified safety improvements across all modes of transportation that will prevent accidents, minimize injuries, and save lives.

If you have been injured in an accident involving any form of transportation, it is critical that you hire an experienced attorney. Please call DBJ today at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation.

Federal Government Hinders Transportation Safety Rules

According to a recent investigation by the Associated Press, under President Donald Trump the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has revoked or delayed a number of important transportation safety rules (A look at some of the transportation safety rules sidelined under President Trump). The Trump Administration’s anti-regulation fervor has resulted in negative safety implications for multiple American transportation industries.

Automobiles:

  • A proposed rule requiring new vehicles to be built with the capability to communicate wirelessly with each other to prevent accidents has been postponed.
  • After lobbying by auto industry trade associations, a directive that electric and hybrid cars must emit sounds at low speeds to warn pedestrians has been pushed back an additional year.

Commercial trucks and buses:

  • American Trucking Association lobbyists stalled a proposal to require software limiting maximum speeds in tractor-trailers.
  • A rule requiring states to inspect buses and other passenger vehicles on an annual basis was withdrawn by USDOT.

Pipelines and gas storage facilities:

  • After concerns raised by “important stakeholders,” USDOT stalled a rule increasing safety requirements for natural gas pipelines.
  • The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has advocated eliminating the pipeline safety classification system, which currently requires additional safety procedures in populated areas.
  • PHMSA is looking at rescinding an interim rule regulating natural gas storage facilities, which was formulated as a response to a methane gas leak near Los Angeles.

Railroads:

  • A rule calling for all trains to have at least two crew members was returned to the Federal Railroad Administration by the White House within a week after Trump’s inauguration.
  • USDOT has abolished a 2015 rule mandating railroad cars hauling flammable crude oil be furnished with advanced braking systems designed to prevent fiery derailments.

It is essential to remain vigilant in the face of the Trump Administration’s commitment to favoring big business over the safety of the American people. If you have been injured in an automobile, truck, natural gas, or railroad accident, it is vital that you hire an experienced attorney. Please call DBJ today at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation.

MoDOT Promotes B2B Seat Belt Event

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) recently joined other state highway safety and law enforcement offices in supporting Border to Border (B2B), a national seat belt awareness kickoff event to promote the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Click It or Ticket program (Border to Border Seat Belt Initiative Kicks Off 2018 Click it or Ticket). The B2B event was held May 21, 2018, as part of Click It or Ticket week, which wrapped up at the end of Memorial Day weekend.

The goal of B2B is to encourage enforcement of seat belt laws and provide seat belt safety fact sheets for drivers near state lines. The B2B event featured a four-hour enforcement crackdown from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.

“Past Border to Border initiatives have proved helpful toward our overall goal of spreading the message about the importance of buckling up,” said Missouri State Highway Patrol superintendent Colonel Sandra K. Karsten. “We are working across the state to do all we can to keep our drivers and passengers safe. Wearing a seat belt is the number one thing anyone can do to help prevent death or injury during a vehicle crash.”

During last year’s B2B promotion, law enforcement officers across the country handed out tickets for 5,695 seat belt and child car seat infractions and an additional 14,619 citations for other traffic violations. MoDOT encouraged participating Missouri law enforcement agencies to accept no excuses for seat belt violations during Click It or Ticket week.

“If one of your friends or a family member does not buckle up when they drive, please ask them to change their habit,” Colonel Karsten said. “Help us spread this life-saving message before one more friend or family member dies needlessly. Seat belts save lives, and everyone – front seat and back, child and adult – needs to remember to buckle up – every trip, every time.”

If you have been injured in an accident, DBJ will ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Please call us today at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.

CSX Railroads Sacrifice Safety for Efficiency

According to a recent article in the Jacksonville Business Journal, railroad industry giant CSX Corporation broke its own efficiency records last quarter (After expensive quarter of train accidents, CSX safety concerns return). Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, CSX’s efficiency increases came at the expense of safety.

CSX implemented precision scheduled railroading in 2017, resulting in the termination of over 4,000 employees. Divisional dispatch supervisors, each representing different sections of the country, were replaced by only two people, a western dispatch supervisor and an eastern dispatch supervisor.

These cutbacks have led to a decline in the railroad’s safety performance, according to at least one dispatcher, because the now-overburdened supervisors pass down the work they can’t finish to the already-swamped dispatchers. “I can’t do my job because I’m doing reports and clerical work and answering emails,” the dispatcher said. “The managers and chiefs are so strapped, they’re making us do it.”

CSX argues, however, that the changes it has made were intended to provide an upgrade to railroad safety. “CSX’s recent management reorganization was a strategic decision to improve safety, service, and shareholder value,” said a CSX spokesperson.

But several dispatchers responded that the additional workload was “distracting” and “a safety hazard” preventing them from doing their primary job of monitoring nearly 1,000 miles of track. “In an environment where we are protecting the lives of crews and the public,” one dispatcher said, “there is too much emphasis placed on [clerical work].”

Charles Culver, a railroad operations consultant at Charles L. Culver & Associates, agreed that dispatchers already have more than enough to do without adding additional duties, comparing their importance to that of air traffic controllers. “To eliminate positions and increase the amount that dispatchers are doing is a safety concern in my opinion,” said Culver, who was a railroad engineer and conductor for 25 years. “These railroaders have their lives in the hands of dispatchers.”

According to statistics compiled by the Federal Railroad Administration, accidents involving CSX railroads in the last quarter produced the most monetary damage in at least five years. Despite CXS’s claims to the contrary, once again one of the giants of the railroad industry has sacrificed safety in its never-ending quest for greater profits.

If you have been injured in a railroad accident, it is vital that you hire an experienced attorney. Please call DBJ today at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation.