Specialists from a Kansas hazardous material (hazmat) team were called in to clean up a fuel spill caused by a tanker truck accident. Nearly 8,000 gallons of fuel leaked onto the roadway after a tanker truck overturned. The fuel spill closed down Route F and Highway 6. The Missouri tanker truck accident occurred Sunday morning, but the roadways were not reopened until after midnight.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains a federal hazmat program to reduce the risk that hazmat accidents pose to the public and to the environment. The hazmat program works to decrease the number of Missouri tanker truck accidents by promulgating and enforcing regulations.
Hazmat regulations reduce the risk of dangerous Missouri tanker truck accidents by conducting inspections and by imposing penalties on unsafe hazmat carriers. Hazmat transporters are subject to unannounced inspections. An inspection may occur after a non-frivolous complaint was filed with a safety agency. The FMCSA may also conduct an inspection after other government agencies – like the Department of Homeland Security – launch special investigations targeting particular radioactive or explosive materials.
Any hazmat violations discovered in an unannounced inspection may result in civil or criminal penalties. Civil penalties range from $275 to $32,500. Criminal penalties are $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations. Monetary penalties aim to deter Missouri tanker truck accidents. Hazmat carriers who do not care about the environment or the safety of the public are likely to care about their financial bottom-line. Imposing financial sanctions on negligent, unsafe hazmat corporations and truckers deters them from causing future accidents.
Personal injury lawsuits deter negligent corporations and truck drivers as well. If a truck driver or corporation injures someone in an accident by failing to comply with hazmat regulations, the accident victim may recover compensation for her injuries. When trucking companies and truck drivers cause an accident through particularly egregious conduct, the accident victim may recover punitive damages for the accident. Punitive damages are penalties above and beyond the amount needed to compensate the accident victim. The potential for punitive damages acts as another deterrent to prevent Missouri truck accidents.