Federal authorities have shut down a Tennessee trucking company after an unannounced roadside inspection found a truck haphazardly packed with unsecured explosives and multiple other violations that constituted an “imminent hazard to public safety.”
On March 23, 2018, a truck operated by RC Stone & Farms of Crossville, Tennessee, was pulled over on Highway 28 in Sequatchie County and inspected by the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
A Bomb with Wheels
Among the cargo that THP authorities found piled dangerously in the bed of the pickup truck were numerous Class 1 explosives, including ammonium nitrate-fuel oil mixture, electric detonators, blasting caps, and detonating cord. Ammonium nitrate is the highly explosive chemical the terrorists used in the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995.
The explosives were piled in the truck bed next to metal objects, including pipes, buckets, and work tools, and also stuffed inside a bent metal toolbox, escalating the risk of explosion.
The denotators and detonating cord in the cab of the pickup were improperly packaged in an unlabeled cardboard box alongside the explosives. It is illegal to transport detonators in the same vehicle as explosive materials unless the detonators are packed in a USDOT-specified container.
No Training, No Qualifications, No Commercial Licenses
The trucking company also failed to prepare hazardous material shipping papers and place hazardous materials placards on the vehicle as federal regulations require, nor did it prepare an emergency response plan as required by law.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said that not only did the driver of the RC Stone & Farm truck lack the endorsements and specialized training to transport hazardous materials, he didn’t even hold a commercial driver’s license. On top of all that, the driver was medically unqualified to drive commercial shipments, let alone hundreds of pounds of explosive materials.
A look at the trucking company’s records showed it had transported hazardous materials to about 44 blasting sites in Tennessee since the beginning of the year. Moreover, the company did not test drivers for alcohol or controlled substances and it had no security plans that would prevent the explosives from falling into the wrong hands.
‘Indifferent to Motor Carrier Safety’
FMCSA investigators found the trucking company’s violations “so widespread as to demonstrate a continuing and flagrant disregard for compliance … and a management philosophy indifferent to motor carrier safety.”
FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order states that the company’s “complete and utter lack of compliance with [HM and federal safety regulations] including when transporting explosives … substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death for its drivers and the motoring public … if not discontinued immediately.”
RC Stone and Farm may be assessed civil penalties of up to $25,705 for each violation of the out-of-service order and penalties of up to $14,502 for operating a commercial vehicle in interstate commerce without necessary USDOT registration. If violations are determined to be willful, criminal penalties may be imposed, including a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment.