Tag Archives: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Video: Report finds majority of Lac-Megantic residents show signs of PTSD

Repost from CTV Montreal

Majority of Lac-Megantic residents show signs of PTSD: report

CTV Montreal, February 4, 2016 8:02PM EST

Two thirds of the residents of Lac-Megantic show moderate to severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the results of a long-term study released Thursday.

Public health officials have been studying the psychological and health impact caused by the train derailment in July 2013 which killed 47 people. In total 1,600 residents from Lac-Megantic and surrounding areas participated in the study.

Lac-Megantic residents are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety as other residents in the Eastern Townships, only 16 per cent of residents are seeking psychological help, a drop from the previous year, and one out of eight residents do not feel safe in their town.

The results also show that one person out of six has reported increased alcohol consumption since the disaster.

The public health agency is recommending more investment in mental health services and is calling for a collective day of reflection in March to gather all residents to come up with a plan to help heal this community.

One issue that remains unresolved is the rails – many citizens want the tracks to be diverted around the town rather than through it.

On Saturday, Transport Minister Marc Garneau pledged at least no trains that go through town will be allowed to carry crude oil, but there’s no guarantee that measure will become permanent.

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    Derailed oil train’s crew told investigators they had seconds to escape

    Repost from McClatchy Washington Bureau

    Derailed oil train’s crew told investigators they had seconds to escape

    By Curtis Tate, McClatchy Washington Bureau, April 27, 2015

    The engineer and conductor on a BNSF oil train that derailed in North Dakota in December 2013 had seconds to escape their locomotive before it was engulfed by fire, according to interview transcripts made available Monday by federal accident investigators.

    The interviews, conducted in January 2014 by the National Transportation Safety Board, show the occupational risks railroad workers face, especially with trains carrying hazardous materials. The train’s engineer is suing BNSF, and says the wreck left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

    They also show that emergency responders did not initially understand the severity of the situation they faced when two trains derailed near Casselton, N.D., on Dec. 30, 2013. One of them was carrying grain, and the other, crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken region.

    The train’s engineer, Bryan Thompson, told investigators that he had only seconds to react before the oil train, traveling 43 mph, hit a derailed grain car in its path.

    He activated the emergency braking system, but he knew from nine years of experience that virtually nothing could stop the 13,335 tons of train behind him from going off the track. He told his conductor to hit the floor and brace for impact.

    “I knew what was coming,” he told investigators, “and I honestly said a prayer. It was really quick.”

    Thompson and the conductor, Pete Riepl, were not injured when the locomotive came to rest. But almost immediately, they noticed that the train was on fire, and they needed to get away. They couldn’t exit through the front of the locomotive: The impact with the overturned grain car had jammed the door.

    Their only choice was to exit through the back of the locomotive, which forced them to go toward the rapidly encroaching fire.

    “That’s the last place you want to go,” Thompson said, “ but it was our only escape.”

    Riepl told investigators that the pair got about 200 yards away before they looked back and saw that their locomotive was engulfed in flames.

    He also said that several minutes after the derailment, tank cars began exploding, in succession, one about every 10 minutes.

    Thompson left his belongings in the locomotive cab, save for his coat _ it was about 20 degrees below zero that day _ and cellphone. He called 911. The dispatcher asked him if she needed to call the local fire department.

    “I said, ‘you need to call every fire department,’” Thompson said he told the dispatcher.

    The 911 dispatcher instructed Thompson to report to the incident command center established at a local high school. Once there, Thompson said he could hear over radio chatter that people were watching the train burn. In similar situations, authorities usually recommend a half-mile evacuation radius.

    “I don’t think you understand what’s going on here,” he said he told a deputy sheriff. “You need to get those people away from there.”

    Thompson asked the deputy if he knew about the deadly oil train derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, which killed 47 people in July 2013. He told the deputy that his train was carrying the same kind of cargo: Bakken crude.

    “And his eyes got big, you know,” Thompson said, “then he said ‘Code Red’ on his radio.”

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      Locomotive Engineer of Exploding North Dakota “Bomb Train” Sues BNSF

      Repost from DeSmogBlog

      BNSF Engineer Who Manned Exploding North Dakota “Bomb Train” Sues Former Employer

      By Steve Horn, April 2, 2015 13:54

      A Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) employee who worked as a locomotive engineer on the company’s oil-by-rail train that exploded in rural Casselton, North Dakota in December 2013 has sued his former employer.

      Filed in Cass County North Dakota, the plaintiff Bryan Thompson alleges he “was caused to suffer and continues to suffer severe and permanent injuries and damages,” including but not limited to ongoing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) issues.

      Thompson’s attorney, Thomas Flaskamp, told DeSmogBlog he “delayed filing [the lawsuit until now] primarily to get an indication as to the direction of where Mr. Thompson’s care and treatment for his PTSD arising out of the incident was heading,” which he says is still being treated by a psychiatrist.

      The lawsuit is the first of its kind in the oil-by-rail world, the only time to date that someone working on an exploding oil train has taken legal action against his employer using the Federal Employers’ Liability Act.

      BNSF Engineer Casselton Lawsuit

      Image Credit: State of North Dakota District Court; East Central Judicial District

      “Run for His Life”

      In the aftermath of the Casselton explosion, rail industry consultant Sheldon Lustig told the Associated Press that freight trains carrying oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin are akin to “bomb trains,” putting the now oft-used term on the map for the first time. 

      Since Casselton, several other oil-by-rail explosions and disasters have ensued in the U.S. 

      Thompson experienced the wrath of an exploding “bomb train” up close and personal. 

      Flaskamp told The Forum newspaper in Fargo, North Dakota that Thompson had to “run for his life” to escape the train he was manning once it derailed after colliding with an oncoming grain train.

      Behind him, tank cars were starting to derail, catch fire and explode,” Flaskamp told The Forum of Thompson, who is in his 30s and is currently in school to obtain a teaching degree.

      The plaintiffs allege BNSF, owned by multi-billionaire Warren Buffett, violated the Federal Employers’ Liability Act in multiple ways.

      They include “failing and neglecting to provide [Thompson] with a reasonably safe place to work” and “failing to warn [him] of the dangers of hauling explosive oil tank railcars and the tendencies of these railcars to rupture and explode upon suffering damage.”

      BNSF Employee Casselton Lawsuit
      Image Credit: State of North Dakota District Court; East Central Judicial District

      BNSF‘s Knowledge

      In the aftermath of the Casselton explosion, DeSmogBlog reported that the company that owned the terminal intended to receive that oil — which owns a facility in Missouri that off-loads the oil into barges in the Mississippi River — notified the Missouri government on its permit application that the oil it planned to handle has high levels of volatile chemicals.

      Put another way, BNSF may have known quite a bit more about the danger of carrying Bakken fracked oil than it ever told Thompson. And that will likely serve as a contentious point in the case as it snakes its way forward in Cass County court.

      BNSF knew or should have known of the dangerous nature of the cargo it required its crews to transport and should have exercised great care in its transport,” Flaskamp told DeSmogBlog. “The Answer to the complaint which will be filed by the BNSF will be telling as to their theories of defense.”

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