Chile’s state rail company sued over 2016 bridge collapse

By Ross Brown / The Santiago Times

SANTIAGO — Three lawsuits have been filed against Chile’s state-owned rail company Empresa de los Ferrocarriles del Estado (EFE) following the collapse of a railway bridge into the Tolten River in southern Chile last year.

Six of the rail cars had fallen into the river in Biobío region last August, but it was carrying chlorate, oil and sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) and nobody was hurt. However, people living near the city of Pitrufquen were warned about drinking water after the incident.

In recent development, Freire municipality mayor José Bravo presented one of the lawsuits, which alleges negligence on the part of EFE for supposedly not removing the stricken cars fast enough, according to BioBioChile.

Bravo claims they are releasing hydrocarbons into the river and that EFE overused the bridge and had not maintained it properly, it added.

Another lawsuit was filed by regional councilor Jacqueline Romero, which is seeking damages from EFE for alleged environmental harm.

The third lawsuit was brought by River Toltén fishing club, whose president Julio Ríos stated that the organization has waited more than six months for the wagons to be removed.

Only one car has been removed to date.