Toxic Transportation Spills: Invisible or Ignored?
Advanced Search
Select up to three search categories and corresponding keywords using the fields to the right. Refer to the Help section for more detailed instructions.

Search our Collections & Repository

All these words:

For very narrow results

This exact word or phrase:

When looking for a specific result

Any of these words:

Best used for discovery & interchangable words

None of these words:

Recommended to be used in conjunction with other fields



Publication Date Range:


Document Data


Document Type:






Clear All

Query Builder

Query box

Clear All

For additional assistance using the Custom Query please check out our Help Page


Toxic Transportation Spills: Invisible or Ignored?

Filetype[PDF-125.85 KB]

  • English

  • Details:

    • Corporate Creators:
    • Publication/ Report Number:
    • Resource Type:
    • Abstract:
      The current study, a national survey of journalists and transportation officials, explores why the most serious commercial transportation spills are rarely communicated to the public, identifies communication gaps in the cleanup/mitigation process, and solicits stakeholder recommendations for improving the transportation industry and public safety. These confidential surveys explored whether, why and how serious transportation spills are communicated to the public. One version of the survey was sent to journalists, and the other version of the survey was sent to at least one transportation official from each of the 50 state DOT offices. The journalists survey invited reporters who wrote about 51 serious spill accidents that did receive media coverage over a decade, as well as environmental and science reporters from across the U.S. The survey questions examined key findings of a previous media analysis project that included a systematic national content analysis of stories covering 5,555 serious freight spills, as well as an analysis of the social media presence of freight companies. The earlier study found that 97% of serious freight spills over a decade received no media attention. Thus, the underlying question of the follow-up study, the two national surveys, was: Why do most serious freight spills never receive media coverage? The surveys identified gaps and challenges in public communication about serious freight spills and informed recommendations for both the transportation and media industries. The findings highlighted challenges in news routines and reporting strategies used in coverage of serious freight accidents, as well as significant gaps in official communications about these spills. Both journalists and officials agreed that the media generally does a poor job of covering spill preparedness, and nearly all of the officials felt that most journalists lack adequate knowledge about freight spills. Even so, the officials viewed overall media coverage of freight spills more favorably than the journalists did. Both groups admitted that reporters are often forced to file FOIA requests in order to gather details about spills. Surprisingly, the transportation officials reported that their agencies use social media more heavily than the journalists’ media organizations. The officials also were more optimistic than journalists about how easily reporters can obtain timely information about freight spills. For instance, reporters were nearly twice as likely as officials to say that reporters are blocked from getting eyewitness interviews or that radio stations broadcast information about hazardous spills. Journalists were more likely than officials to argue that freight transport should travel through rural, remote areas away from population centers. Officials were more likely to prefer that freight trucks and trains travel in or near urban areas where more communication channels are available to alert people about hazards and where hazmat responders can respond more quickly.
    • Format:
    • Main Document Checksum:
    • File Type:

    Supporting Files

    • No Additional Files

    More +

    You May Also Like

    Checkout today's featured content at

    Version 3.26