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Safety

Freight Rail Safety Inquiry Sought

by Glenn Hess
September 10, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 37

After a series of recent accidents involving freight trains, the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee is seeking a review of freight railroad safety. Sen. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) has asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate how well the Federal Railroad Administration’s safety policies and procedures are working, as well as those of state agencies. “By and large the rail system is safe, but recent incidents show that our rail system can still be deadly when things go wrong,” Rockefeller says. “We need a thorough review to identify gaps that may exist in our safety programs and policy and to reduce the risk of accidents.” In the past two months, coal train derailments in Northbrook, Ill., and Ellicott City, Md., have resulted in four deaths. In addition, a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying ethanol, which is highly flammable, derailed on July 4 in Columbus, Ohio. Three tank cars each carrying 30,000 gal of ethanol exploded and burned.

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