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Sires, Pascrell Urge Rulemakers to Expedite Rail Safety Standards

Apr 21, 2015
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) - Today, New Jersey Representatives Albio Sires and Bill Pascrell, Jr. urged the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to adopt recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) regarding the Department of Transportation's proposed rule on enhanced railroad tank car standards for trains carrying high-hazard flammable material in addition to expediting the rulemaking.

Trains carrying high hazardous material have increased significantly in New Jersey and the rest of the United States due to the increased production of crude and shale oil nationwide. New Jersey is home to 2,400 miles of freight rail lines that run through some of the state's most densely populated areas, including neighborhoods and business districts. As rail transportation of hazardous materials continues to increase, so does the amount of accidents that occur. On July 6, 2013, a train derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec resulted in a crude oil fed fire that killed forty-seven people. 

"We have witnessed too many accidents involving these outdated tank cars to continue to sit back and do nothing," said Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ-08). "The people of New Jersey and all Americans deserve the assurance that our freight transportation systems are safe."

NTSB has stated that a major problem with some of the railcars carrying high hazard flammable material today is that they are easily punctured, thus vulnerable to igniting a fire. Such was the case in the Lac-Megantic incident. The proposed rule will require a new design for tank cars carrying these high hazard materials. Reps. Sires and Pascrell asked OMB to include a provision in the rule that would require an aggressive schedule for existing tank cars to be retrofitted to the new standards.

"After too many delays, it is imperative that the Administration not only finalize new rail tank car safety standards quickly, but make the new rules as tough as the National Transportation Safety Board recommends," stated Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-9). "Residents in Bergen County and other communities along the path of these crude oil shipments should be able to trust that the federal government is doing everything in its power to address safety and security of hazardous materials traveling by rail."

A copy of the letter may be seen here.