Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Politicians Seek to Cut Speeds for Oil Trains

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Politicians Seek to Cut Speeds for Oil Trains

Article excerpt

TEANECK -- A coalition of state and local officials called on the federal government Wednesday to require speed reductions for trains hauling volatile crude oil through 11 towns in Bergen County as well as other densely populated communities.

Standing just a few hundred feet from where 15 to 30 trains pass through hauling millions of gallons each week, the seven officials said the trains are a potential threat to all who live along the rail line. The oil the trains are carrying has a low flash point and there have been several fiery derailments in North America in the recent past, including one last year in Quebec in which 47 people were killed and 30 buildings were destroyed.

"If something happens, we won't have time to evacuate; we won't have people to evacuate," said Ora Kornbluth, a councilwoman in Bergenfield, where the trains pass through. "If it blows up, our houses are directly on that line."

Transport of crude oil by rail has increased 4,200 percent in the past six years because of the enormous reserve found in the remote Bakken region of North Dakota. Because there are few pipelines, most of the oil is transported by train.

The trains, each carrying upwards of 3 million gallons of crude, enter Bergen County in Northvale on the CSX River Line on their way to a Philadelphia refinery. Besides Bergenfield, they travel within feet of thousands of homes, businesses and schools in Norwood, Harrington Park, Closter, Haworth, Dumont, Bergenfield, Teaneck, Bogota, Ridgefield Park and Ridgefield.

Concern has grown in Bergen County. On Tuesday, candidates in the county executive race also called for stepped-up rail safety.

In February, major rail companies agreed to several safety measures, including a reduction in the maximum speed of oil trains to 40 mph when they are within 10 miles of a major city -- a practice that would cover all of the CSX River Line through Bergen County.

The group gathered in Teaneck said that is not enough. …

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