State rail safety task force issues initial report, recommendations

AP photo

AP photo

From Governor McAuliffe’s Office: Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced the release of the Virginia Railroad Safety and Security Task Force’s Initial Report and Recommendations.  Those recommendations include:

  • Increase risk-based rail safety inspections.
  • Require more frequent ultrasound examination of rail on tracks carrying passengers, crude oil, or bulk hazardous materials.
  • Require railroads and federal regulatory agencies to share all safety-related records.

Governor McAuliffe formed the Railroad Safety and Security Task Force on May 9, 2014 after a derailment and explosion of crude oil rail cars nine days earlier in Lynchburg. Since it was formed, the agencies comprising the Task Force have increased the frequency of rail inspections on high-hazard routes, delivered crude oil response training across Virginia, and developed additional hazardous materials response capability in concert with local jurisdictions.

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“I applaud the members of this task force for the work they have done over the past 11 months in bringing subject matter experts, environmental groups, industry representatives and members of the public together to act on immediate opportunities for enhancing railroad safety and security in our Commonwealth,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This group has also done a great job producing a set of longer-term recommendations to help guide future preparedness initiatives. I look forward to reviewing and implementing these recommendations with my public safety and transportation teams so that we can ensure the safety of these rail lines that are essential to our economic growth.”

“I am proud of the steps this Task Force has taken and the future actions we have recommended to enhance the safety of our Commonwealth’s rail lines and the communities they serve,” said Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne, a Task Force co-chair, “While the Task Force was necessarily focused on what we can do at the state level to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from hazardous materials incidents along rail lines in the Commonwealth, the regulation of interstate commerce is almost exclusively reserved to the federal government. We strongly urge our federal partners to swiftly operationalize the new regulations announced today and provide states with additional funding to address the challenges posed by high-hazard flammable trains.”

The Task Force has met four times since June 2014 to receive briefings from: Railroad officials; industry experts; federal agencies; and state agencies that support first responders and hazardous materials response and recovery missions.

“This Task Force report will serve as a blueprint for our continued efforts to protect life, property, and the environment from all hazards facing Virginia,” said Task Force co-chair, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “We are also looking forward to the anticipated release of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation on the Lynchburg derailment that occurred one year ago today.”

 

 

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