Cuomo urges DHS, DOT to strengthen rail safety

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Tuesday called on federal officials to strengthen federal regulations for rail safety in the wake of frequent train derailments carrying crude oil over the last year.

“I am deeply troubled by the pattern of incidents involving the rail transportation of crude oil, from major accidents in 2013 to two minor derailments in New York this week,” Cuomo wrote in a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. 

Cuomo explained that New York is a major corridor for the transport of high volumes of crude oil, and said he’s “not convinced” that communities are protected from safety hazards during that process.

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As a result, the governor is asking the federal government to expedite rail safety reforms.

“Therefore, I request that you move swiftly to strengthen regulations on tank car safety, require reporting of derailments when crude oil is involved, and increase inspections along the network in which crude oil is shipped,” Cuomo wrote.

Last week, a train carrying crude oil and another one that had just off-loaded the material derailed in two incidents in upstate New York.

Cuomo asked the department heads to institute regulations that would require railroads to report an accident involving crude oil within one hour, more clearly indicate a train is carrying the substance, and add it to the Homeland Security’s list of hazardous materials. 

New York’s request comes as it also urges greater oversight for passenger rail safety after the derailment of a Metro-North commuter train in December that left four dead and dozens injured.