In wake of recent Norfolk Southern disaster, Casey introduces bill to support first responders on front lines of hazardous train derailments
Bill would create fund, paid for by companies, to reimburse emergency responders for costs associated with hazardous incidents in their communities
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), John Fetterman (D-PA), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the Assistance for Local Heroes During Train Crises Act to support first responders on the front lines of hazardous train derailments. In Darlington, Pennsylvania and East Palestine, Ohio, local emergency responders, firefighters, and law enforcement risked their own wellbeing to protect their communities in the aftermath of Norfolk Southern’s disaster. This new legislation would create a new fund—paid for by companies that ship and carry these materials—to provide emergency responders, firefighters, and law enforcement with the financial resources needed to replace equipment, pay workers overtime, and address other urgent costs as well as compel railroads to notify local officials and emergency response groups when hazardous materials are moving through their communities.
“The first responders who risked their lives and wellbeing to protect Pennsylvania and Ohio from Norfolk Southern’s disaster are heroes who deserve much more than our gratitude,” said Senator Casey. “The Assistance for Local Heroes During Train Crises Act will help our communities better prepare for future derailments and cover the cost of damaged equipment, overtime pay, and more—all paid for by the companies that ship and carry these materials. Along with the Railway Safety Act, this legislation will help keep our communities safe from hazardous train derailments and hold railroads accountable for the damage these crises inflict.”
“When big rail corporations wreak havoc on communities like East Palestine, local first responders are left to clean up their mess. Too often, cities and towns have no warning that hazmat is traveling through their communities, and they don’t have the resources and training they need to respond if a derailment happens,” said Senator Brown. “I’ve spoken with local officials, first responders, and residents on the scene in East Palestine, and I’ve heard the challenges these local heroes faced responding to this accident. Ohio communities should not have to foot the bill for corporate negligence and greed.”
“As the President of the Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association, I am proud to announce that we support the Assistance for Local Heroes During Train Crises Act,” said Robert Brooks, President of the Pennsylvania Professional Firefighters Association. “We have a local that is now still without equipment lost to the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. Beaver Falls Fire Fighters Local 3539 is operating to this day down 13 sets of full gear, 10 self-contained breathing apparatuses and 10 face pieces for starters. That is a tremendous load for a fire department to overcome. With this legislation, the money needed would be immediately available to replace this equipment and replace manpower lost to illnesses related to the incident.”
Earlier this month, Casey and colleagues introduced the bipartisan Railway Safety Act to prevent future train derailments by improving rail safety protocols. The bill would also hold rail companies accountable for these disasters by increasing fines.
Read more about the Assistance for Local Heroes During Train Crises Act here.