Bill Would Require More Transparency About Hazardous Rail Cargo

Apr 9, 2018

New Jersey Statehouse

A bill advancing in the New Jersey legislature would force train companies to be more transparent about the transport of crude oil and hazardous substances.

The measure is intended to help protect communities if there’s a derailment.

New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel says Bakken oil that’s carried on trains contains chemicals that could make it explode during an accident. He’s also concerned a spill could endanger nearby water supplies.

“Everyday we’re playing Russian roulette with our rail lines and this bill brings some common sense simple ways of letting the public know we have plans in place in case something happens.”

The legislation would require the operators of high-hazard trains to put information on their websites about the routes and volumes of cargo.

Michael Fesen with Norfolk Southern Railway says that’s a security risk.

“These provisions are nothing short of a gift to ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and homegrown terrorists. This bill takes all the hard work out of being a terrorist, and it flies in the face of our national efforts to protect our citizens, our towns, and our hazardous materials from attack and sabotage

Senator Loretta Weinberg says freight trains have symbols on the cars indicating what’s inside and anyone with the right App can look it up.

“Saying this somehow sets up something for somebody to attack a train is beyond the pale because anybody can, god forbid, do it today.”

Former Governor Chris Christie vetoed similar legislation. Weinberg is hoping Governor Murphy goes along with the latest version.