05.27.16

Leahy Joins Legislation To Improve Safety Of Rail Transport Of Oil And Petroleum Products

…Two Bills Aim To Prevent Disaster, Protect Environment…

WASHINGTON (FRIDAY, May 27, 2016) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) cosponsored legislation to improve the safety of rail transport of oil and petroleum products, creating critical protections for human life and the environment across the country.  Leahy joined the legislation as concerns about the oil being transported along the shores of Lake Champlain, and the threat it may pose to the lake and to area residents, grow in Vermont. 

The Hazardous Materials Rail Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2015, introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), provides incentive for companies to remove out-of-date and potentially dangerous tanker cars in favor safer models.  The legislation would establish a fee on the oldest and most dangerous tank cars used to ship crude oil and use that revenue to provide grants for emergency preparedness, first responders and additional inspectors.

The Crude By Rail Safety Act, Introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) would establish new federal safety standards for rail cars that transport oil and other flammable liquids and require the phasing out of old, dangerous tank cars. The bill mandates more safety inspections of rail carriers and oil producers, heftier penalties for noncompliance, improved spill response plans, and notification of local authorities when these materials are shipped through their communities.

Senator Leahy said:  “There has been an exponential increase in the number of oil trains crisscrossing the country in the past several years, and from Vermont we only need to look west to the New York shore of Lake Champlain to see the trains rumbling by one after another.  With more oil trains there have been more accidents in the U.S., as well as the tragedy that struck Lac-Mégantic Quebec less than 100 miles from Vermont.  We learned the hard way that oil tank cars can easily rupture.  The Champlain valley has thus far been spared, but I dread what the impact could be on human life, and on Lake Champlain, should one of these trains leave the tracks.”

The number of oil train cars moving on U.S. rails went from fewer than 10,000 in 2008 to more than 500,000 by 2014 according to the US. DOT.

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