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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Four senators call on USDOT to expand first responder advanced notification threshold

U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkeley (D-Ore.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) have jointly called on the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to require notifications to first responders before trains carrying 20 or more carloads of crude oil, ethanol or other flammable liquids travel through their communities.

In 15 pages of comments submitted to the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration per its proposed rulemaking, the senators identified what they characterized as "shortfalls and inconsistencies" in the USDOT's proposal to only cover trains carrying 35 cars or more of oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota.

In an accompanying letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, the senators called for an expansion to an existing emergency order regarding advanced notification to cover any trains carrying 20 carloads or more of crude oil, ethanol and 71 other flammable liquids.

"We believe railroads should supply first responders with more transparent information about crude-by-rail and other flammable liquid shipments traveling through communities in Oregon, California and other states across the nation," the senators wrote, according to a joint press release. "Doing so would reduce the public health and environmental dangers these shipments pose by allowing for better emergency planning, training and coordination between local, state and federal authorities, as well as the private sector, which plays an important role in responding to transportation accidents."

Ethanol and oil shipments have increased from 75,000 in 2005 to more than 700,000 in 2013.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/2/2014