The East Palestine, Ohio chemical disaster is spurring a bipartisan push for better rail safety.
Ohio Senators J.D. Vance (R) and Sherrod Brown (D) are proposing tougher guidelines for trains carrying hazardous materials:
- safety requirements for wheel bearings, which are the top cause of train derailments
- a mandatory two-person work crew requirement on every train, and
- higher fines for companies when accidents happen.
Bipartisan support in Congress may be there
“Right now, fines don’t make a dent in the profits of big [rail] corporations,” says Brown. “They’re just the cost of doing business … as Norfolk Southern’s profits have gone up, accidents have gone up.”
Vance’s and Brown’s bill would direct the Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration to promulgate a rule.
Meanwhile: Texas, Oklahoma and Michigan are balking at taking toxic soil from the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine.
EPA head Michael Regan argues the states can’t refuse waste if hazwaste treatment sites in those states are able to take the soil, under the Superfund law.
Vinyl chloride, a carcinogenic compound used to make plastics, and various dioxins are the contaminants of concern.