Bulkmatic Transport Company Pleads Guilty to Violations of Hazardous Materials Transportation Law
Monday, January 10, 2005 () Bulkmatic Transport Company, headquartered in Griffith, IN has pleaded guilty to felony charges stemming from its failure to comply with federal hazardous materials transportation laws. Specifically, the company failed to train an employee who was seriously injured while unloading hazardous materials at a facility in Chattanooga, TN.
On Jan. 3, 2001, a Bulkmatic employee was seriously injured when a valve fitting on a railroad tank car ruptured spraying him with sulfuric acid. The employee was unloading the product by himself, despite the fact that he had received no training on the handling of hazardous materials and was not wearing personal protection equipment. As a result of the incident, 1,805 gallons of the product were released.
Under the plea agreement, Bulkmatic has agreed to pay a $400,000 fine imposed by the U.S. Department of Justice and abide by the terms of a three-year probationary period. The company also will implement a comprehensive program to fully comply with all hazardous materials laws and regulations. This includes taking specific steps to ensure its employees are properly trained, tested, and certified before they handle hazardous materials.
“This successful prosecution is an important reminder that federal laws governing the transport of hazardous materials are intended first and foremost to protect public health and safety,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta. “We will vigorously prosecute companies that violate those laws.”
“The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is firmly committed to ensuring the safety of hazardous materials transported over the nation’s freight rail system,” said FRA Acting Administrator Robert D. Jamison. “Anything less than total adherence to safety laws and regulations will be dealt with in the harshest of terms.”
U.S. DOT Inspector General Kenneth Mead said that vigorous enforcement of the laws governing hazardous materials is critical to protecting the safety of the public and is one of his office’s top priorities
Bulkmatic has paid a $27,500 civil penalty to the FRA for failing to train or directly supervise the employee. Bulkmatic also paid $44,750 to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for other regulatory violations resulting from the incident.
The plea in this case was the result of an investigation conducted by the DOT Office of Inspector General with assistance from FRA inspectors.