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Rail News: Safety

NTSB checks off eight safety recommendations on 'Most Wanted' list

NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt
Photo – ntsb.org


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) earlier this week announced eight of its 2019-20 "Most Wanted" list of transportation safety improvement recommendations have been implemented.

The recommendations included one addressing emergency response to railroad hazardous materials events, which was issued to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

The NTSB marked as "closed, acceptable action taken" Recommendation No. R-14-022, which called on the AAR to amend the U.S. Hazardous Materials Instructions for Rail to require train crews to immediately provide their train consists and the emergency response information for all hazardous materials on the train to federal, state or local emergency responders when accidents occur.

The NTSB recommended the safety action in response to a 2012 accident involving a Conrail train that was traveling over a moveable bridge in Paulsboro, New Jersey, when it derailed, according to an NTSB report. Three tank cars containing vinyl chloride came to rest in Mantua Creek, of which one was breached and released about 20,000 gallons of vinyl chloride. On that day, 28 residents sought medical attention for possible exposure, and the train crew and many emergency responders were also exposed.

"Many people believe the NTSB’s work is done when an investigation is completed and we determine probable cause,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt in a press release. "But our work is really just beginning when we issue safety recommendations based on the findings of an investigation."

Also yesterday, the agency announced three other rail-related safety recommendations that it determined were closed but with "unacceptable action" taken. The recommendations were made to the Federal Railroad Administration and stemmed from two rail accidents, one involving a BNSF Railway Co. coal train and a BNSF maintenance-of-way train (Nos. R-12-020 and R-12-021) and one involving a CSX train and an Amtrak train (No. R-18-005).

"The failure to implement these safety recommendations are missed opportunities to prevent accidents, reduce the number and severity of injuries and to save lives," Sumwalt said in reaction to the FRA's responses to the NTSB's recommendations.