WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is urging the U.S. Department of Transportation to mandate that railroads notify local emergency personnel what hazardous materials are on the trains that pass through their communities.
Schumer, D-N.Y., asked DOT officials to issue a rule that would require rail companies to report the contents, schedule and route of train cars carrying hazardous material — a measure already recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board. He said companies now report this information to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, but not to the localities that would be directly impacted in the event of a derailment.
Schumer cited the derailment and explosion that killed 47 people in a small town in Quebec in July 2013 as compelling evidence for the change. He said first responders rely on these details to determine the appropriate response.
Schumer praised rail companies with a “SecureNow” agreement in New York, by which data on their cargo is shared. But he said the program needs to be expanded and secure information-sharing needs to be required by federal regulation.