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Federal Railroad Agency Will Conduct Safety Review of All Major Railroads

Federal Railroad Agency Will Conduct Safety Review of All Major Railroads

Meanwhile, Norfolk Southern (owner of the derailed train involved in February’s toxic chemical release) asserts East Palestine residents’ class action lawsuit is barred by US law.

It has been four months since a train derailment near East Palestine, Ohio, leading to the fire that created a toxic cloud of hazardous chemical byproducts from the materials] stored in four different chemical tank cars.

Now federal officials plan to conduct safety assessments of all major U.S. railroads.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) reviews were sought by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. They will be similar to a recently completed review of Norfolk Southern’s safety culture practices and compliance after its train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, catching fire and releasing over a million gallons of hazardous materials and pollutants.

FRA Administrator Amit Bose told Schumer the agency in a previously unreported June 1 letter the agency will conduct assessments on each major railroad over the next year and it plans to release “an overarching final report assessing issues, trends, and commonalities across all railroads reviewed.”

Bose’s letter said each major railroad will be asked to “develop corrective actions in response to FRA’s recommendations, and FRA will track those to completion.”

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) opened a special investigation into Norfolk Southern in March.

NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy told Schumer in a previously unreported April 7 letter the board did not have the resources to expand its safety review to all major railroads saying it “would strain our already limited resources and delay completion of current investigations.”

Last month, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee approved rail safety legislation that tightens rules on trains carrying explosive substances.

Presently, Norfolk Southern has asked a U.S. judge to toss a proposed class action lawsuit, arguing the claims being made in the case are barred by federal law.

The railroad company told a federal court in Youngstown, Ohio that the consolidated complaint filed last month on behalf of roughly 500,000 area residents, businesses and property owners relies on “vague and conclusory allegations” that it acted improperly, leading to the crash.

The company said it is required as a common carrier under U.S. law to transport hazardous materials like those that spilled and caught fire, including vinyl chloride.

It said the plaintiffs’ negligence, nuisance and strict liability claims are preempted by federal laws like the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act and the Federal Railroad Safety Act. Those laws “expansively” regulate railroad operations and bar those sorts of claims based in state law, Norfolk said.

Jayne Conroy, an attorney representing the plaintiffs with the law firm Simmons Hanly Conroy, on Monday called the motion to dismiss “routine” and said “we have every expectation that the motion will be denied in its entirety.”

The effects of the toxic chemical release also impacted neighboring areas in Pennsylvania. The state House has just passed a set of state-level rules for railroads.

The bill has a variety of safety measures, including a prohibition on trains more than 8,500 feet long, another that seeks to deter slowing-moving or stopped trains from blocking roads used by emergency vehicles for more than five minutes, and an order for a study of the transport of hazardous materials by railway in the state.

…“Extraordinary events bring extraordinary action,” said state Rep. Robert Matzie, D-Beaver, the prime sponsor of the bill. “How many East Palestines should we accept?”


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Damn. I just took all my train derailment decorations down and was putting up my bank failure decorations…

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to rduke007. | June 9, 2023 at 9:37 am

    I had a rough night of intermittent sleep. I awakened and “tuned in” to LI and read your comment.

    I roared with laughter. Thank you.

    DSHornet in reply to rduke007. | June 9, 2023 at 9:51 am

    The summer weather is hot. Don’t forget the BLM riot decorations.

    henrybowman in reply to rduke007. | June 9, 2023 at 7:53 pm

    I just never take any of mine down anymore.
    I just rotate which ones are plugged in.

I don’t get the point of the lawsuit unless the goal is either merely to enrich the attorneys or to coerce an out-of-court settlement. Homendy made it quite clear that by all indications, the railroad followed the existing rules.

    Lucifer Morningstar in reply to BoboPhat. | June 9, 2023 at 10:49 am

    Yes. to both. Force an out of court settlement that will only enrich the attorneys that filed the lawsuit and will give pennies, if anything, to the citizens of East Palestine, Ohio.

Walk along any track you see and count the number of rail spikes backed out of the ties at least six inches. It won’t give you a feeling of confidence.

    rhhardin in reply to DSHornet. | June 9, 2023 at 9:59 am

    There’s huge redundancy. The spikes keep the rails from going sideways but they’re not going to anyway because many adjacent ties also hold them. So that’s not an emergency and normal maintenance takes care of it.

    Lucifer Morningstar in reply to DSHornet. | June 9, 2023 at 10:55 am

    Bullshite. I’ve walked along many a track and have never seen any rail spikes “backed out of the ties at least six inches”. NEVER. So I don’t know what track you’re walking but it certainly can’t be active track that allows rail traffic.

The only thing that will be discovered is that bearings go from bad to worse faster than they’ve designed fault detector spacings for, and they’re already putting more detectors in to get them closer.

There’s three derailments a day. This one happened to be unusually unlucky in where it happened and what resulted.

    henrybowman in reply to rhhardin. | June 9, 2023 at 7:55 pm

    Kinda like arguing that Darrell Brooks was unusually unlucky that there were a lot of kids on the street.

The other aspect Norfolk Southern is overlooking is what happened after the derailment. Namely setting the toxic mix of chemicals on fire which spread the toxins far and wide. I would think they had at least proportional liability for that decision unless the State of Ohio forced this decision unilaterally.

E Howard Hunt | June 9, 2023 at 10:06 am

One evening when the sun was low
And the jungle fires were burning
Down the track came a hobo hamming
And he said, Boys I’m not turning;

I’m headed for a land that’s far away
Beside the crystal fountains.
So come with me, we’ll go and see
The Big Rock Candy Mountains.

Of course they will. And the blame will all be placed on:

Climate Change
Climate Change deniers
Vax deniers
Gender deniers

And of course, the master mind behind it all:


A Federal agency will investigate…

Every single thing that occurs anywhere in the country becomes the justification for a Federal investigation, except failures by the Federal government itself. Examples: control of the border; corruption in the FBI; Biden family kickbacks; election fraud; the Afghanistan drawdown; antifa’s peaceful demonstrations in Portland, Seattle, Milwaukee, and other places; House judiciary committee evidence withholding; Eric Swalwell’s bed partners; the FISA court; and on, and on, and on. The Federal Government is the most failed organization in the country.

Shouldn’t the U.S. Secretary of Trans take the lead in investigating whether the railroads have policies in place requiring woke pronoun usage and protecting drag queens from interference from domestic terrorists? If those policies were in place, then the East Palestine mess would never have happened.

If you care about the poor minor drag queens of East Palestine, Vote Dem 2024!

Excess rail traffic with Biden’s Green deals.

It is news that a government agency will do it’s job??