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Georgia truck wreck spills explosive ammonium nitrate

A recent truck accidnet on I-20 about 45 miles west of Augusta, Georgia, involved a truck loaded with 24 tons of ammonium nitrate used both as an oxidyzing agent in explosives and as fertilizer, overturned and began leaking. Three people were reported injured.

Ammonium nitrate mixed with diesel fuel is quite a volatile mix. If this spill occurred in a heavily populated area, and a spark was added, it could have had monumentally catastrophic consequences. Ammonium nitrate is a key component of military explosives such as the “daisy cutter” bomb. It was involved in the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building bombing in 1995, as well as several accidental explosions in ports around the world over several generations.

Motor carriers hauling explosives must comply with strict “HazMat” shipping regulations and carry at least $5,000,000 liability insurance under 49 C.F.R.§ §387.303. “HazMat” truck drivers must clear security check by the Department of Homeland Security. However, agricultural ammonium nitrate is exempted from the Hazmat insurance requirements under 49 C.F.R.§ 387.301, even though it was agricultural ammonium nitrate that was used in the Oklahoma City federal building bombing.

Go figure.

Ken Shigley is a 2019 recipient of the “Tradition of Excellence”Award from the State Bar of Georgia General Practice & Trial Section.

Mr. Shigley has earned three national board certifications from the National Board of Trial Advocacy – in Civil Trial Law, Civil Practice Law and Truck Accident LawHe is a board member of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys, former chair of the American Association for Justice Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability Section, which includes the Trucking Litigation Group. 

He is lead author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice, now in its tenth annual edition with Thomson Reuters West. His law practice is focused on catastrophic injury and wrongful death including those arising from commercial trucking accidents and those involving brainneckbackspinal cordamputation and burn injuries. 

In 2011-12, Mr. Shigley was president of the State  Bar of Georgia, which includes all the lawyers and judges in Georgia.  He also is a former chair of the Institute for Legal Education in Georgia (board member 2008-2019, chair 2012-13),  State Bar of Georgia Tort & Insurance Practice Section (1994-95), and the Georgia Insurance Law Institute (1994). 

A former prosecutor and former insurance defense lawyer, Mr. Shigley is a graduate of Furman University and Emory University Law School. He is a widower,  father of two adult children, and an elder in his church.