Lawmaker calls for hearing to address rail safety in Pa.

     (Bas SLabbers/for NewsWorks)

    (Bas SLabbers/for NewsWorks)

    Rail shipments of crude oil are on the rise in Southeast Pennsylvania as the refining industry takes advantage of a surge in domestic production. But after a number of disastrous derailments, state Rep. Joe Hackett (R-Delaware) says residents need assurance that the same thing won’t happen in Pennsylvania.

    “We need to hear from people in the industry and I want the industry to tell us the safeguards that are in place,” said Hackett, who is pushing the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee to hold a hearing.

    A representative for Chairman Steve Barrar (R-Chester) confirmed that the committee is considering holding a hearing in Delaware County sometime in March.

    Last week, a small town in North Dakota was evacuated after a crude oil train collided with another train and exploded. It was the fourth serious accident involving a crude oil train in the last six months.

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    When another derailment took place in New Brunswick, Canada on Monday, Hackett said it made the hair stand up on the back of his neck. Mile-long unit trains each carrying 70,000 barrels of oil are traveling on rail lines to refineries in Delaware County and South Philadelphia every day.

    “We want the jobs and we want companies making money and companies paying taxes, but we do want it to happen safely,” Hackett said.

    Experts say that overall, rail as a good safety record, but the more traffic, the greater the chances for accidents.

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