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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – It has been one year, but lawsuits linger after a train derailment and explosion.
On the morning of October 31, 2012, evacuations forced people from their homes in southwestern Jefferson County after the derailment of a train carrying hazardous chemicals. Three workers suffered serious burns while attempting to separate derailed the cars.
Several West Point residents have filed lawsuits against the railroad and cleanup contractors. In a complaint filed by attorney Jasper Ward, Paducah & Louisville Railway, R.J. Corman, CSX and CTEH are listed as defendants.
Residents who live in or near the West Point community have filed the suit in Hardin County, accusing several companies involved in the cleanup of allowing toxic substances to be released into residents' property.
Lawyers are pursuing class-action status, meaning more residents could join the legal action.
During the incident, public officials acknowledged the area could have been dangerous for nearby residents following the fire and ordered evacuation and shelter in place warnings that lasted days.
Ward, the plaintiff's attorney, said the lawsuit represents, "Everyone who was hurt and injured by the train derailment last month in West Point."
P&L Railway claims an internal audit found an investigation of the tracks occurred days before the derailment.
"It's P&L Railway's belief the rail broke under the train. It was inspected two days prior to the derailment during a visual inspection," spokesperson Bonnie Hackbarth said.
Residents who were affected received $100 a day, plus reimbursement for additional expenses associate with being displaced from their home.
"I got approximately $1,000 combined for both times," said Pam Smith, a West Point resident. "I didn't go overboard. I just turned in what was necessary to get by."
Two workers injured while separating derailed cars have also filed lawsuits - claiming their supervisors instructed them to use an acetylene cutting torch. An explosion blasted through the air when workers lit the torch.
The Federal Railroad Administration will release a report in the near future which will indicate an official cause for the derailment, explosion and if anyone violated safety procedures.