Syracuse City Council Seeks Support for Railcar Safety Legislation

May 21, 2014

large black cylindrical freight train cars
DOT 111 rail cars
Credit dot.gov

Concerns surrounding rail car transport of flammable oils and gases have motivated Syracuse Common Councilor Jean Kessner to push for tighter regulations. This news comes after Senator Chuck Schumer's critique of a recent rail safety initiative, agreed to by the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Association of American Railroads on February 20, 2014. 

She spoke with Syracuse Fire Chief Paul Linnertz on the subject Wednesday, where Linnertz said all rail carriers are under federal orders to provide information about their inventories when they’re traveling through populated areas:

Such inventory information is not made available to the public due to homeland security concerns; publicizing where and when flammable liquids will be near populated areas could invite danger. But Common Councilors are ready to support Schumer's complaints and urge the President and Congress to take steps to protect residents from the risk posed by the growing volume of oil coming by rail from the west.

Outdated, unsafe rail cars known as DOT 111’s are the main concern, because they often carry especially volatile crude oil from North Dakota: 

Senator Chuck Schumer called attention to the matter last summer after the derailment of similar tankers in Quebec that killed 47 people and leveled a town.  Schumer said that hundreds of these cars containing oil and ethanol travel through Syracuse each year, and 70% of all rail tankers in service are DOT 111’s.