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Emergency Workers Support Proposed Train Safety Changes

Congress Mulling Requiring Railroads To Notify Local Responders About Dangerous Cargo

oil train cars
Roy Luck (CC-BY)  

Congress might soon require freight railroads to share more information about potentially hazardous cargoes and about safety inspections of rails and bridges — something that makes a group of local leaders in Wisconsin very happy.

The transportation bill now pending on Capitol Hill includes requirements that rail companies provide to local governments more information about railroad structures, and about oil and other dangerous material passing through.

Milwaukee Fire Department Chief Mark Rohlfing said he hopes the measure passes.

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“As a former hazmat responder, the thing we need is information,” said Rohlfing. “The more transparent our haulers can become, the better prepared we can be.”

But officials with the Canadian Pacific railroad said they already provide information on dangerous goods to first responders upon request. Moreover, the carrier said making full bridge inspection documents available to the public would be harmful to public safety.

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