Paulsboro derailment anniversary brings proposed inspections


This past weekend brought not only the fatal derailment in New York, but the anniversary of the train accident and chemical spill in Paulsboro, New Jersey. 

A South Jersey Congressman says independent inspections could prevent future derailments. 

Rep. Rob Andrews (D-Haddon Heights) has proposed two bills to mandate independent inspections. Rail bridges would get scrutiny every two years and freight rail-switching systems every six months. 

Andrews believes the derailment and vinyl chloride spill in Paulsboro could have been prevented if there had been an independent inspection.

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“We listened to people from the industry we looked at academic studies, we looked at reports from the National Transportation Safety Board and did not want to over-regulate,” he said. ‘It doesn’t serve anyone interest to create a new government bureaucracy drving up the cost of goods and not improve safety, our bill is targeted at the two most glaring defects, which are the switches and the bridges are self inspected.” 

Andrews, who represents Paulsboro, says the inspections are key to making the freight railways safe.

“I want the railroads to be profitable and prosperous that’s good for the country but I don’t want a safety decision to take a backseat to a profit decision,” he said.

Conrail, who controls the Paulsboro bridge where the derailment occurred declined comment on the matter. The Association of American Railroads also did not comment on the proposed bills.

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