Assembly Republican Press Release -
Assembly Republicans Jack Ciattarelli and Holly Schepisi said a recent federal Department of Transportation (USDOT) report predicting 10 trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail each year over the next two decades should provide the impetus for the department to act on the upgraded safety standards it proposed last July.
“The sight of the horrific derailment in West Virginia last month and the 2013 fatal accident in Canada is irrefutable evidence of the potential dangers of transporting immense proportions of Bakken crude oil,” said Ciattarelli, R- Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex. “We would be foolish to think such catastrophes couldn’t happen anywhere, including New Jersey.
“New Jersey, being the most densely populated state in the country, shipping Bakken crude oil on rails so close to homes is a major concern,” continued Ciattarelli. “We shouldn’t have to wait for another derailment to have the USDOT approve the latest safety improvements.”
“CSX, which owns the rail cars shipping the product, agrees that increasing safety standards is in order,” said Schepisi, R-Bergen and Passaic. “The extraction of Bakken crude oil in North Dakota is a positive development for our energy needs. However, each day we are rolling the dice that a major accident won’t take place in New Jersey which will have significant consequences. The new standards will save lives and protect our environment.
“The proximity of the rail lines to densely populated areas puts people and their property at risk. Instead of discounting this forecast, the railroad companies should be looking for ways to improve safety and minimize damage in the event of a derailment,” continued Schepisi. ”Enough time has lapsed since the recommendations were made. The next step is to take action.”
New regulations were proposed by the National Transportation Safety Board last July. They require tankers to meet current thickness standards and enhance a train’s braking system within two years or risk being phased out. According to the American Association of Railroads, only 15 percent of the 92,000 tankers cars on the rails today meet the latest industry standards.