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State senators tackle crude oil safety on the rails

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Leaders in the Commonwealth are making sure state agencies are prepared to handle derailments caused by hazardous situations. They’re pushing for safer means of energy products, like crude oil.

In February, a train hauling millions of pounds of crude oil derailed and exploded in West Virginia. Trains like this are known as bomb trains. The disaster prompted concerns about the potential for hazardous materials to be released in Pennsylvania.

“I think it’s important to be proactive rather than reactive and so that’s why we decided to do it up front,” said state Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Bradford)

Yaw is the Republican chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. He and other state leaders heard testimony about what needs to be done to safely transport oil by rail.

Lancaster County Commissioner Scott Martin says, “The county and LEPC sponsored a functional simulated rail accident exercises involving a rail incident in Marietta. Eighty-two┬áresponders and elected officials participated in the exercise sponsored through a grant from PEMA, trans care and Norfolk Southern.”

Quintin Kendall is the Vice President of CSX Transportation. He says, “If something happens, we will have equipment there within hours, to supplement the local first responders within hours at the latest.”

Senator Yaw doesn’t know when legislative action will happen. He says the biggest challenge is finding enough money to implement the safest techniques.

Yaw says, “Money for training and inspectors, the PUC would like to have more inspectors so it all comes down to being able to fund what we need to do.”