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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Rep. Norcross calls for new law to regulate hazmat materials by rail


U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-N.J.) last week introduced legislation aimed at improving hazmat-by-rail safety. The Toxics by Rail Accountability and Community Knowledge (TRACK) Act (H.R. 2074) would implement a series of recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) following a 2012 train derailment in Paulsboro, N.J.

In November 2012, a freight train derailed in Paulsboro, causing several tank cars to spill vinyl chloride. The incident caused 1,500 people to evacuate the area. No injuries were reported.

Norcross said H.R. 2074 calls for implementing recommendations made by the NTSB in the wake of its investigation of the incident.

“Following the 2012 train derailment in Paulsboro and other preventable public safety emergencies, we must ensure that rail users take steps to minimize the risk of an accident and provide recourse to those affected when companies fail to do so," he said in a press release. "These NTSB-supported recommendations will improve rail safety and expand protections for first responders and residents who live along train routes."

According to Norcross, the TRACK Act would create penalties for railroads that violate safety standards; require up-to-date, accurate and standardized hazardous materials information to support first responders and emergency management officials; establish new safety procedures and qualifications to improve moveable bridge crossing safety; improve risk assessment tools for railroads; and enhance public education along routes that carry hazardous materials.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

Norcross' legislation is among many recently proposed federal rules and bills aimed at improving the safety of transporting crude oil and other hazardous materials by rail.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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