By: Allan M. Siegel
Six months after the Yellow Line tunnel
filled with smoke and resulted in one person dead and countless others injured, the National
Transportation Safety Board hinted at a likely potential cause of the
incident. In a 10-page report, the NTSB criticized Metro for failing to
ensure all power-cable connections near the rail tracks are protected
from contaminants. Transit engineers who specialize in electricity who
were uninvolved with the NTSB inquiry noted that the intrusion of contaminants
into the power-cable connections could cause electrical meltdowns like
the one that occurred near L’Enfant Plaza metro station in January.
The NTSB found that a number of power-cable connections throughout the
Metro system lacked “sealing sleeves” that are designed to
keep water, dirt, and metal dust away from electrical current. These “improperly
constructed power-cable connector assemblies . . . can lead
to short circuits that can generate fire and smoke in tunnels.”
The report did not state whether the cable connectors involved in the
January incident had the sealing sleeves as the power cables are still
being analyzed because of the damage that they suffered. The report, however,
did cite circumstantial evidence that the cable connector assemblies at
the site of the L’Enfant incident lacked the sealing sleeves. Following
release of the report, Metro acknowledged that about 80 percent of the
power-cable connector assemblies through the system lacked the sleeves.
It will take months before Metro is able to fully correct the situation.
Until three years ago it had been Metro’s practice to not install
the sealing sleeves to protect the cable-connectors.
Although the NTSB will not release its full and final report until early
next year, last week’s report adds clarity to how and why the January
Metro incident happened. Our personal injury attorneys have years of experience
representing victims harmed in
train accidents and individuals who have been injured as a result of Metro’s negligence,
including victims of the 2009 Metro crash. If you or someone you love
was injured in the January Metro incident or at any time as a result of
Metro’s negligence, please call us today for a