Congress Expresses Concerns over Rail Safety Following Second Ohio Derailment

Photo: Screen Shot / ABC News (Fair Use)

Following a second freight train derailment in Ohio in under a month, Democrats and Republicans in Congress are renewing their push for rail safety legislation. Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw is scheduled to testify before a Senate committee on Thursday, where he can expect to face tough questioning on the matter.

“The big railroads have weakened safety rules or resisted safety rules for years,” Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “But you’d think a disaster that happened in East Palestine would have gotten their attention.”

The train derailment on Saturday occurred in Springfield, Ohio, which is approximately 180 miles (400 kilometers) west of East Palestine, where a previous derailment last month resulted in the release of hazardous chemicals into the surrounding rural area along the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, Bloomberg reports.

Early reports suggest that there was no release of hazardous materials during the derailment in Springfield, and authorities promptly lifted the shelter-in-place directive.

However, Brown has expressed a desire to determine whether any residual contaminants remain in the 20 mostly empty train cars that derailed.

“The railroad’s got a lot of questions they’ve got to answer and they really haven’t done it very well yet,” he said, as reported by Bloomberg.

As the primary sponsor of a rail-safety legislation, Brown is advocating for greater transparency regarding the transportation of hazardous materials across state lines, regular inspections of wheel bearings, and the establishment of minimum crew sizes.

The proposed bill also seeks to impose harsher penalties for any violations that may occur.

Written by staff