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Changes Needed After Derailment

Date : Thu, 6 Dec 2012 12:57:50 -0500

For Immediate Release
December 4, 2012 Contact:Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100

Changes Needed After Derailment

We are still seeing the impacts of Friday's train derailment in Paulsboro resulting in the discharge of hazardous materials, including entering the Mantua Creek, which feeds the Delaware River.This is the second derailment at this spot since 2009. There are trains going through many communities in New Jersey carrying toxic materials everyday and we need better accountability, maintenance and inspections. We need to ensure that this does not happen again here or anywhere else.We need to change how we handle and transport hazardous materials.WE need more inspections, inspectors, and more independent oversight.We need to expand Right To Know so the people know what is coming through their communities.We need Congress to investigate what happened here and change the laws so that this kind of accident does not happen again.

"What happened in Paulsboro should have never happened and we need to protect not only Paulsboro but the rest of the country from these types of incidents in the future.There are hundreds of trains every year across the country carrying thousands of pounds of hazardous materials. We have a broken system that needs to be fixed," *said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club.*

This spill may have been the result of a bridge collapse.We need to do more to ensure our bridges and trellises are maintained and that the rail lines themselves are safe. There are not enough inspectors to ensure the lines are safe.We need programs in place to ensure the tanks themselves do not leak if there is an issue.For too long the railroads have been exempt from many of the stricter standards that have been proposed to make the transportation of these chemicals safer. We need to route these chemicals through unpopulated instead.It will take federal legislation to close these loopholes. We need better notice to municipalities of what is coming through their communities so that they can have evacuation plans in place.Some of the chemicals can not only cause serious harm to people but can impact large areas, miles around the site of the spill.Congress has tried for years to raise the liability caps on such chemical spills.This spill is leaking vinyl chloride, a carcinogen into the Mantua Creek.Such spills can also involve volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and benzene, very unstable and dangerous chemicals. Many of the rail companies have huge freight trains to save money that are taking hundreds of cars of hazardous materials, increasing the likelihood of spills.A few years ago, a tank burst in the Baltimore Harbor Rail Tunnel, closing down the north east corridor and putting people in harm's way.We have seen major spills this year alone in Kentucky, South Carolina, Virginia and Indiana.

"We are playing railroad Russian Roulette with all the tanker cars carrying toxic materials through populated areas.There are too many spills happening across this country from freight trains.We are concerned if we do not make our rail lines safer we will see more derailments and spills and more catastrophic impacts to communities," said Jeff Tittel. "There needs to be more information so that towns know what is coming through their towns and the liability caps need to be raised."

Kate Millsaps
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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Received on 2012-12-06 09:57:50

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
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