Month after crude oil derailment, residents express rail safety concerns to Sen. Durbin

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BARRINGTON, Ill -- One month after a train carrying crude oil derailed and set fire in Galena, leaders in Barrington met with Senator Dick Durbin today to push for safer rail traffic through their community.

Barrington leaders and several others in the areas that have communities along train tracks and saw what happened in Galena last month. Thankfully the fiery crash was in a remote area outside of town and there were no injuries.
But leaders in Barrington and elsewhere worry about what would happen if the same occurred in their heavily populated communities.

The group aired their concerns about the added rail traffic coming through carrying more volatile material like crude oil. Train traffic in the area has quadrupled since 2008 and trains are now more than twice as long.

Leaders are pushing for added track inspections and a  safer, new generation of tank cars to help prevent fiery derailments.  Just this week, the National Transportation Safety Board acknowledged this need and it recommended railroads replace or retrofit tank cars to make them safer and more fire resistant. One railroad, the BNSF, recently announced its own additional safety measures for trains carrying crude oil, like slowing trains in heavily populated areas and increasing track inspections.

However everyone is still waiting for new official standards from the federal government which were supposed to be released in January, but now may not be until late Spring.

In the meantime, local leaders continue to share their frustration in hopes added regulation will happen soon.

Senator Durbin said he is working on letters urging the Dept of Transportation to address the volatility of what’s in the tanks and the safety of the tanks themselves. He is pushing for the government to release those new standards sooner than late Spring.

At the meeting today, they also talked about the traffic headaches these longer trains have been causing. Just in the first quarter of 2014, crossings along one rail line were blocked by trains for 10 minutes or longer more than 5,000 times. That’s obviously  a concern for first responders who often need to cross tracks to get to emergencies.

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