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State Lawmakers Scramble for Railroad Oil Spill Safety Plans

from: http://northeast-nc.legalexaminer.com/mass-transit-airline-cruise-ship-train-bus/state-lawmakers-scramble-for-railroad-oil-spill-safety-plans/

State Lawmakers Scramble for Railroad Oil Spill Safety Plans

railroad accident lawyerIn the aftermath of several deadly railroad oil train accidents state governments are hiring rail inspectors and oil-spill experts and preparing emergency plans. The railroad accidents have become more frequent as oil shipments by train have grown 400 percent since 2005. Recently the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board issued recommendations as part of a probe into the Lac-Megantic derailment, which sent a fireball through the center of the town and turned a crowded pub into a deadly inferno.

Their recommendations include hauling crude oil in stronger tank cars and on safer routes. The problem is that neither board can enforce standards, which are overseen by agencies such as the U.S. Transportation Department and Transport Canada. So who can set railroad safety standards? The answer: only the federal government can set rail standards. So why haven’t they? Believe it or not the federal government has ordered railroad companies to comply with specific safety standards to prevent these types of accidents. In September 2008, a new railroad safety law went into effect that set a deadline of December 15, 2015, for implementation of positive train control (PTC) technology across most of the U.S. rail network. However railroads have been unable or unwilling to meet the deadline and have convinced Congress to extend the deadline to 2018.

The Federal Railroad Administration says the system could prevent 52 accidents a year, ranging from nonfatal rail-yard mishaps to deadly train crashes. The NTSB says had the new PTC system already been in place, it would have prevented at least 15 train crashes since 2005 that killed 50 people and injured 942 others. So maybe State legislatures should be giving railroads less leeway when it comes to extending the deadline for Positive Train Control instead of spending extra money hiring inspectors and oil spill experts.


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