(Paulsboro, New Jersey – December 6, 2012)
New Jersey First District Congressman Rob Andrews, who represents the Paulsboro area In the United States House of Representatives, is proposing new, more stringent regulations which would help prevent recurrence of accidents like the bridge collapse and hazardous materials derailment that occurred in Paulsboro Friday, November 30.
As more than 200 households were still unable to return to their homes due to the derailment of a CSX train on the Conrail-owned bridge and the spill of vinyl chloride, Congressman Andrews joined two other congressional members and New Jersey’s Lt. Governor in touring the site of the wreck Thursday.
“We’ve got to come up with a sensible set of regulations,” said Andrews, who proposes an independent agency be given a greater role in rail safety, especially for trains carrying hazardous materials that, if spilled, can jeopardize public health. Andrews believes Congress must force such changes.
An independent railroad accident investigator, Bob Comer, who has investigated over 300 railroad accidents, many on his own but others as a plaintiff’s lawyers’ expert witness, said the problems are as old as the industry itself.
“All the way back to 1825 when the railroad industry started in the United States, they have put money ahead of safety,” Comer observed.
But a spokesperson for the Association of American Railroads, the Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group that represents America’s Class One railroads, disagreed. “We are the only mode of transportation that owns, maintains and repairs its own infrastructure,” said AAR’s Holly Arthur. “It is in the railroads’ interest to ensure that infrastructure is world-class.”
The Conrail bridge over Mantua Creek must have qualified as “Third-world class”.