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Philly City Council calls on U.S. for tougher oil train safety standards

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Every week, 42 trains carrying crude oil rumble through Philadelphia.

To call attention to the need to protect the city’s residents from any mishaps involving that cargo, City Council Thursday passed a nonbinding resolution urging federal officials to demand those trains use stronger tanker cars.

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson’s resolution calls for rapid replacement of the crude-oil tank cars that roll through Philadelphia.

“With the increase in train traffic in Philadelphia, we are flirting with disaster and the most frustrating part is that local government does not have the authority to legislate train standards,” Johnson said. “So we are stuck with the federal government to act.”

Newer tank cars are available, but old ones are still common.

Recent derailments in West Virginia and Canada have people worried, said Michael Rolls of Clean Water Action.

“Unfortunately, the transparency is lacking, especially by the Office of Emergency Management,” he said. “People are left to hope that a crude-by-rail emergency does not occur in their community.”

The resolution also calls for the city to explain evacuation plans in the event of an accident.

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