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Senators push NTSB to probe Takata truck explosion

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — A pair of U.S. senators are pushing federal investigators to probe an explosion involving a truck that was carrying air bag parts and propellant manufactured by troubled Japanese supplier Takata.

Sens. Edward J. Markey, D-Massachusetts, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, said the National Transportation Safety Board should examine the crash because the truck that exploded in Quemado, Texas, on Aug. 22 was carrying the ammonium nitrate-based propellant that has been found to cause Takata air bags to rupture, especially in humid climates. One person in a nearby home was killed in the truck explosion and four others were injured.

“We already know Takata has endangered millions behind the wheel — the recent tragedy in Texas raises questions about how many millions more are in harm’s way because of Takata’s practices transporting its hazardous product,” the senators, who are members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said in a statement.

“Takata has a terrible track record of cutting corners to put profits before safety, creating tragic consequences for drivers and families and then lying to federal regulators,” the statement continued. “The National Transportation Safety Board must investigate this incident and determine whether this company took appropriate precautions, or if it is just one more example of its reckless behavior.”

Takata representatives declined to comment on the senators’ actions.

Shrapnel from exploding Takata inflators already has been tied to at least 11 deaths and more than 100 injuries worldwide. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recalled nearly 70 million of the Takata air bags that were used in cars that were made by 17 vehicle manufacturers, including including Fiat Chrysler, Honda and Toyota.

Federal regulators have ordered Takata to recall all of the faulty air bags by the end of 2019. The recall is being implemented in a phased approach that prioritizes cars sold in states with high temperature and humidity. Michigan is among the lowest-priority states in the recall.

Only 10 million of the faulty air bags that were called back had been repaired by Aug. 12, according to the NHTSA website.

Sens. Markey and Blumenthal said Wednesday they also, “seek answers on what steps must be taken to ensure other towns and communities aren’t endangered by the shipment of ammonium nitrate on our highways.”

klaing@detroitnews.com

(202) 662-8735

Twitter: @Keith_Laing