By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
The U.S Department of Transportation proposed new rules Wednesday to improve the safety of trains carrying crude oil and other hazardous materials.
State and county officials, who have been advocating for the past several months for increased safety measures, said they support the proposed rules, which call for newer train cars, building standards and improved operations.
"In the year since the tragedy in Quebec killed 47 people, we have seen too many derailments, crashes and spills from these cars, and I applaud the administration for taking this important step to increase safety measures in the transport of crude oil and ethanol through our communities," U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, said. "We will continue to monitor the transport of these substances through the capital region to ensure these new rules are comprehensive and implemented as quickly as possible."
Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management Director Jeffery Smith said the improvements will benefit the residents in the county, where a CSX rail line carries more than 70 trains a day through villages, towns and the city.
"It is a start. The safer you make the cars, if there is a derailment or an incident, hopefully it will eliminate those bad things that are being transported from leaking out, causing a fire and affecting our environment," Smith said. "We have to continue to work with the state and CSX to do the best we can to protect our people and every little thing helps."
The rules would require the retrofit or phase-out of the current DOT-111 cars within two years for the shipment of volatile bakken crude oil and within five years for all flammable materials. In its place, new tank cars would be built with new braking controls, thicker walls and required roll-over protection.
The rule will also require notification of State Emergency Response Commissions for trains carrying crude oil on rails through their state.
To help keep communities safe during the transition to safer tank cars and to help speed up the transition process, the rule will place speed restrictions on trains that contain cars that do not meet the new safety standards.