Senator Charles Schumer is speaking out, hoping to keep neighborhoods safe from hazardous material spills during derailments.
Schumer was in Syracuse Tuesday, calling on the Federal Department of Transportation to require freight rail carriers to create a plan to retrofit or phase-out DOT -111 tank cars. Schumer says they are flawed, out-of-date and a factor in hazardous material spills during derailments.
You may remember in November 2011, 60 homes along Berwyn Avenue in Syracuse were evacuated when a CSX train carrying 18,000 gallons of fuel derailed. Schumer says it's an example of what can happen when flawed cars are used to carry hazardous material.
Schumer now wants the DOT to impose requirements on freight rail carriers to phase out DOT -111 tank cars and avoid potential explosions, environmental spills or other dangerous situations.
Schumer also cited the recent freight rail derailment in Quebec, which also involved DOT-111 cars.
Currently, the CSX lines through Syracuse have about 200 to 300 DOT-111 cars carrying crude oil or ethanol each day, plus the freight carried on the Armory Square rail line . "The recent crash in Lac-Megantic and the increased number of trains carrying oil and other hazardous material down the CSX line through Syracuse are a cause for concern, and I am urging the federal Department of Transportation to start phasing out older tank cars, particularly because they are thought to increase the damage that ensues after a derailment. The DOT-111 tank car has proven particularly prone to spills, tears and fires in the event of a derailment, and it's simply unacceptable for New York's communities along the rail lines to face that risk when we know thicker, tougher cars could keep us safer," said Schumer. "This is not to demonize freight rail or the significant economic activity the increased shipments mean for Onondaga County and New York rail, but we have to protect that investment by limiting the risk for major damage in the event of a derailment. Simply put, the increased traffic of rail cars carrying crude oil through Syracuse and Onondaga County warrants increased safety measures-and that begins with putting the safest, most up-to-date tank cars on the tracks from Syracuse to Albany and beyond."