17 Injured in Railcar Facility in Atchinson County
A tragic explosion occurred inside a GBW Railcar Services facility in Atchison County, Kansas on Dec. 11th at approximately 2 p.m. The Atchison County Sheriff's Office received an emergency 911 call stating that a railcar that was transporting fuel, perhaps gasoline, had exploded and at least seven individuals were en route to hospitals.
In the area where the explosion occurred, railcars are prepped for receiving a coat of paint. At the time of the explosion, 17 employees were inside the facility. Injured employees suffered from smoke inhalation, broken bones, and burns to their bodies.
At least two individuals were transported to the University of Kansas Hospital Burn Center for treatment of severe burns. The cause of the explosion has yet to be determined. The Kansas State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause.
The two men who received extensive burns to their bodies are recuperating and are believed to be in “fair condition.” The other five individuals who were transported to area hospitals were discharged after receiving treatment for their smoke inhalation injuries.
This is not the first explosion to have occurred at a facility in Atchison County. In October of 2011, a similar explosion at a grain plant left three individuals dead and two seriously wounded.
GBW Railcar Services is owned by two companies, one based in Oregon and one based in Kansas. The companies joined forces in order to create a multi-state network of repair shops that fix and refurbish old railcars. Employees of the railcar service facility have complained that they often work in dangerous conditions.
Senior managers have been deployed to the facility to assess the damage. The facility employs more than 50 workers to repair and refurbish old railcars.
Preliminary reports suggest that the partners involved in the joint venture may have exposed employees to similar hazards in the past, including a fatal explosion in 2012. One of the partners in the joint venture, a Kansas-based company called Watco, has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on numerous occasions, including at least 17 violations at a facility in Hockley, Texas.
At Peterson & Associates, our railroad and train accident lawyers are available to assist you with all of your personal injury questions after an accident.