Washington, DC- As train derailments continue to raise concerns in Pennsylvania and communities across the nation, U. S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today called on the Administration to expedite a new rail safety rule that would put new, stronger cars on the rails and increase resources for first responders. The Department of Transportation has sent a proposal it has been working on for over a year to the Office of Management and Budget. However, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) says it needs until May to finalize the rule and make it public. Following last week’s derailment in West Virginia and derailments in McKeesport, Vandergrift, Philadelphia and Uniontown, Casey released a new letter to OMB’s Director Shaun Donovan calling for the agency to move forward on these safety measures.
“Train derailments threaten the health and economic wellbeing of communities across Pennsylvania,” Senator Casey said. “New safety requirements by the Department Transportation are a step in the right direction but more must be done to protect vulnerable communities and our first responders. Pennsylvania has borne the brunt of many of these derailments. It’s important for residents to have the peace of mind in knowing that the necessary actions are being taken to improve safety on our nation’s railways.”
The text of Senator Casey’s letter is below:
Dear Director Donovan:
I write to urge you to complete your review of the Department of Transportation’s draft proposal of DOT-111 tank cars used to transport crude oil as soon as possible. As you know, last week a CSX train derailed in Mount Carbon, West Virginia. While the cars that derailed were CPC-1232’s and not DOT-111’s, they still ruptured and exploded, causing the evacuation of thousands of people in the area. It is crucial that we take appropriate action to protect our communities and prevent events like this from ever occurring again.
Crude oil shipments by rail have increased drastically over the past several years, largely due to the rise of oil production in North Dakota. Large quantities of this oil travel through Pennsylvania and other states on a daily basis and are shipped by older rail cars that are prone to rupture. The increase in shipments by rail has unfortunately led to an alarming number of train derailments in Pennsylvania and put communities at risk. While we know the increase of crude oil has catalyzed growth in rail shipments, it is important that we make sure the appropriate measures are taken to ensure safety and that railroads are properly communicating with first responders.
I look forward to working with you to improve freight rail safety both in Pennsylvania and across the country. Thank you for the consideration of my views and your swift attention to this matter. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact me or my staff.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator