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NTSB Report Gives First Indications of Cause of January Metro Incident

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.DC Metro Accident Lawyer

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 free consultation.