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Wilmington Incident Shows the Danger of CNG-Powered Trucks

By Dallas Personal Injury Attorney on March 15, 2024

In February 2024, in the neighborhood of Wilmington in Los Angeles, California, a truck powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) caught fire and later exploded. This explosion resulted in nine people injured, including two critically injured firefighters. The truck driver had noticed something abnormal in the tanks and called 911. The truck, equipped with two 100-gallon CNG tanks, exploded while firefighters were attempting to extinguish the fire. Video footage captured the intense blast, which sent flames into the sky and caused significant damage to surrounding vehicles and infrastructure. Witnesses described the explosion as feeling like an earthquake.

Another similar notable accident occurred when a CNG truck collided with a highway median, resulting in a tank rupture and a subsequent fire that engulfed the vehicle. The intensity of the fire was exacerbated by the CNG, proving difficult for firefighters to control.

In another case, a CNG-powered garbage truck experienced a tank failure – not due to an accident – but equipment malfunction, which caused an explosion that severely injured the operator.

Despite the benefits of CNG as a cleaner alternative to traditional fuels, these incidents have brought to the forefront the inherent risks associated with its use, reinforcing the need for strict safety standards, enhanced emergency response training, and increased public awareness.

What Is CNG and How Is It Used in Trucks?

Compressed Natural Gas, or CNG, is a fuel made by compressing natural gas to less than 1% of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure. This form of natural gas is used in vehicles as a clean alternative to other fossil fuels, such as diesel and gasoline. Trucks powered by CNG are equipped with specially designed fuel tanks that can withstand high pressure, allowing them to store and utilize this gas effectively.

The use of CNG in trucks is gaining traction because of its cost-effectiveness and lower emissions compared to traditional fuels. It burns cleaner, reduces pollutants, and offers an environmentally friendly option for heavy-duty transportation solutions. This shift is part of a broader move toward sustainable energy practices in the trucking industry, which is increasingly focused on reducing its carbon footprint and adhering to stricter emissions regulations.

Dangers Specific to CNG-Powered Trucks in Accidents

In the event of an accident, CNG-powered trucks exhibit unique hazards. The robust, highly pressurized CNG tanks might be compromised during a high-impact collision, potentially releasing its flammable natural gas into the atmosphere, possibly leading to fires or even explosions. Such incidents can be more dangerous than those involving liquid fuels since the quickly dispersing CNG could affect a larger area.

The colorless and odorless properties associated with CNG liquids also make it challenging to detect leaks. Although an odorant is usually added for safety purposes, emergency responders might still face difficulties promptly handling these accidents. Lack of adequate training can result in delayed extinguishment of fires, thereby increasing the chances of severe injuries or even fatalities should a serious incident occur. This combination of factors makes CNG truck fires exceptionally dangerous for those aboard the vehicle and emergency responders.

Although safety measures such as proper tank positioning and installation of protective barriers can help mitigate these risks, the inherent characteristics of compressed natural gas demand vigilant caution when responding to fires involving CNG-powered vehicles.

Liability: Investigating a CNG Truck Accident

What Should Be Examined

When investigating a CNG truck accident, several critical factors must be considered. Determining the cause of the accident is vital, as it could be due to a mechanical failure, human error, or other external factors. These details are crucial for building a legal case and ensuring victims receive the compensation they deserve.

If a fire or explosion occurs, it’s also vital to examine whether the CNG tanks were adequately maintained and met safety standards. Inspection records can indicate if regular checks were conducted on the tanks and fueling systems to prevent leaks and failures.

Navigating the Legal Landscape: How Dallas Truck Accident Attorneys Can Help

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a CNG truck accident in Dallas, it’s critical to reach out for the help you deserve. Engaging with an injury attorney can provide you with the support and guidance you need during this challenging time.

A dedicated Dallas truck accident lawyer can alleviate the burden of legal proceedings by handling all aspects of your case, from gathering evidence to representing you in court. They are committed to ensuring that your voice is heard and you receive the maximum compensation for your suffering and losses.

You have already endured the physical and emotional toll of an accident; now, let a seasoned professional take on the fight for justice on your behalf. Call The Lenahan Law Firm at (214) 295-1008 for a free consultation.

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