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Suit Filed Over Cleanup of Cajon Pass Crash

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A year after a fatal train derailment in Cajon Pass, a Los Angeles attorney has filed a class-action lawsuit charging that Burlington Northern Santa Fe officials did not reveal to cleanup workers the full danger posed by chemicals spilled during the crash.

The lawsuit, filed in San Bernardino Superior Court, also accuses the railroad of negligently operating the 49-car freight train that careened out of control down a slope last Feb. 1, killing the brakeman and conductor.

The suit filed by attorney James H. Davis lists as plaintiffs three workers he says have developed shortness of breath and other health problems as a result of a cleanup effort amid burning chemicals.

Eric Vang, an Ojai contract worker who served as safety officer, attributes a recent asthma condition to his work near the burning chemicals.

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The suit alleges that workers were not told of the presence of butyl acrylate, which Davis described as cancer-causing. Vang, 48, charged Saturday that the company took safety shortcuts to hasten the cleanup.

Railroad officials denied cutting corners on safety during the cleanup.

Company spokesman Michael Martin said the effort was closely monitored by state and federal environmental officials and that the hazardous nature of the spilled cargo was known from the start.


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