A recent truck crash in Quemado, Texas has raised serious questions regarding the dangerous Takata airbag issue. According to media reports, a tractor trailer which was carrying used airbag components failed to negotiate a curve and crashed. The truck exploded and immediately became engulfed in flames. These flames spread to a nearby home, killing a 67-year-old woman who was inside the home. The truck driver and a passenger escaped the truck before the explosion.
Witnesses say the explosion was large enough to cause damage to homes and spread parts of the truck and rubble almost a mile away from the crash site.
The used airbag components were removed from vehicles involved in the massive Takata airbag recall. The number of vehicles involved in the recall continues to grow, which more than 100 million vehicles currently affected.
Prior to 2000, Takata used the chemical tetrazole for their airbag components but found that the cost of the chemical was high. The company replaced the tetrazole with ammonium nitrate, which was substantially cheaper to use, despite repeated warnings from their own engineers how dangerous this volatile chemical is.
Tragically, those warnings became a reality, with at least 10 people dead and hundreds of more victims injured from incidents involving the defective airbags. The ammonium nitrate causes the bags to explode with such force, the protective casings collapse and shards of shrapnel spray out of the bag in into the vehicle. Another dangerous issue has been the high risk of explosion that ammonium nitrate has when it is exposed to hot or human weather for long periods of time.
Now there is concern regarding just what precautions Takata is taking when it comes to transporting the airbag components that have been removed and just what kind of danger this presents on the roads, not only to motorists but also to emergency responders who arrive on the scene of an accident.
Emergency Film Group offers several programs which can assist in providing OSHA Awareness training for personnel who might be first on the scene of an emergency involving hazardous materials, including our Hazmat/WMD Awareness program.