State House committee to hold rail safety hearing in Delaware County

     In this Jan. 24, 2014, photo, railroad crews transfer flammable crude oil from from five derailed tank cars on a bridge over the Schuylkill River, in Philadelphia.  (Matt Rourke/AP Photo, file)

    In this Jan. 24, 2014, photo, railroad crews transfer flammable crude oil from from five derailed tank cars on a bridge over the Schuylkill River, in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo, file)

    The federal government is scrutinizing railroads that move crude oil after a number of derailments across the country. Following two incidents in Pennsylvania, the state will hold its own rail safety hearing in Delaware County Wednesday.

    A House committee will hear from representatives of the railroads, as well as state and local emergency responders, about the rising number of tank cars full of crude oil crossing Pennsylvania.

    State Rep. Joe Hackett, R-Delaware County, wants to know if the region is prepared for a serious incident.

    “We have to make sure our firefighters and our police officers and everybody’s ready for just in case it happens,” he said. 

    Since Hackett first called for a hearing in January, a minor derailment in Philadelphia left six tanker cars leaning across a bridge, but they did not spill or leak. Last month, a train carrying heavy crude derailed in western Pennsylvania, spilling thousands of gallons of oil.

    Hackett is striving to prevent similar incidents.

    “Let’s make sure we’re up to snuff on our rail cars and the railroads bringing it down,” Hackett said. “I’m looking forward to the industry booming.”

    The rail industry is taking voluntary precautions to make shipping crude oil safer, but Hackett said those steps may not be enough. Lawmakers may need to push for state or federal funding to upgrade tracks and other infrastructure to make sure the trains get to their destinations safely, he said.

    The hearing will be held on Wednesday at the Eddystone Fire Company No.1, 1112 E. 7th St., Eddystone, Pa., at 9:30 a.m.

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