Two conductors have filed a lawsuit in Coeur d’Alene (Iowa) First District Court against Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad for allegedly exposing them to toxic fumes and materials, which they say caused them to develop cancer and other illnesses.
John Hluboky was a conductor at BNSF in Hauser from 1977 to 1998. He now has colon cancer. Hal Chapman was a conductor at BNSF in Hauser from 2006 to 2016. He was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
According to the lawsuit, both men say that their cancers were caused by dangerous fumes they were regularly exposed to while working on the railroad, including diesel fuel and exhaust, benzene, creosote from the railroad ties, rock and silica dust from the railbed, and asbestos from the train’s insulation and brake shoes.
For example, both benzene and asbestos are carcinogens. Exposure to benzene can cause blood cancers like acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, according to the American Cancer Society.
Asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or chest. Asbestos has also been linked to other types of cancer including ovarian cancer.
Hluboky and Chapman claim BNSF didn’t bother to protect them from potential harms, failing to take basic care and caution, and didn’t test the cars or train yards for dangerous materials. They also didn’t remove known carcinogens from their facilities, the lawsuit states.
The men are suing the railroad for an undisclosed amount.
Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls Press
American Cancer Society