Order requires railroads to inform responders when crude rolls into town

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – In an emergency order issued by the secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday, railroads will now be required to inform state emergency response commissions that flammable crude is coming through their town.

The federal decree comes after a number of spills involving crude, with the latest happening last week in Lynchburg, Virginia. More than a dozen cars derailed, sending flames and a black plume of smoke high into the air. Thankfully, no one was injured, unlike other derailments, such as the one in Quebec last July that killed nearly 50 people.

News 4’s Luke Moretti has extensively covered the dangers of crude oil being transported on outdated and malfunction-prone DOT-111 tank cars. After the accident in Virginia, Governor Andrew Cuomo wasted no time putting out a statement saying, “In addition to steps that states like New York are taking, the federal government must overhaul the safety regulations starting with taking DOT 111s of the rails now. They travel through neighborhoods and we cannot wait for a tragic disaster in our state to act.”

Senator Charles Schumer called on the U.S. DOT to require railroads to share information with local first responders about hazardous and highly flammable materials, like crude oil, traveling through their communities, which led to Wednesday’s emergency order.

“These outdated tank cars are ticking time bombs, and local first responders need to know when they are coming and what they are carrying so they can be adequately prepared for any scenario. The fact that the DOT issued this emergency order today so quickly after our push shows that Secretary Foxx gets it, and I sincerely hope they follow it up with a federal rule that requires the phase-out or retrofitting of outdated DOT-111 tank cars,” Schumer said.

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