Actions Include Expediting the Implementation of Safer Tank Cars for Hazardous Materials
Modernizing Braking Regulations and Systems to Prevent Potential Collisions
Requiring Rail Roads to Provide Advance Notice to State Emergency Response Teams of Hazard Cars Moving Through States
Expanding Access and Funding to Training and Preparedness Planning for Freight Rail Hazmat Events
Governor Kathy Hochul today urged the freight rail industry, Congress, and federal regulators to take additional actions to prevent freight rail hazmat disasters in the wake of the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio that has threatened the health and safety of residents. The comprehensive actions outlined by the Governor will help create a safer hazardous material transportation industry, while increasing state emergency response capabilities through improved federal oversight.
"The health and safety of New York residents remains my administration's top priority. The train derailment that took place in East Palestine, Ohio emphasizes the need for preventative regulations and the adequate prepositioning of emergency response resources," Governor Hochul said. "New York remains committed to leading on freight rail hazard preparedness and response, and I'm calling on our partners in the freight rail industry, Congress, and federal regulators to curb future disasters by modernizing transportation methods for hazardous materials and strengthening resources for hazard preparedness planning and response."
Specifically, Governor Hochul called on the freight rail industry, Congress, and federal regulators to take the following actions:
- Expedite the phase-in of safer tank cars (DOT 117's) for hazardous materials in advance of the Congressionally mandated 2029 deadline.
- Modernize braking regulations and increase the use of electronically controlled pneumatic brakes (ECP) to prevent potential rail derailments.
- Require rail roads to provide advance notification to State emergency response teams of hazardous cars moving through their state.
- Expand state and local grants specifically for hazmat preparedness and response planning.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Through Governor Hochul's leadership, New Yorkers should know that the State is ready to respond whenever emergencies occur. The actions outlined by the Governor today will ensure the federal government is prioritizing rail safety improvements that will better protect our residents and ensure the nation has the most stringent rail transportation oversight. DEC looks forward to working with our federal, state, and local partners as we review and build upon our nation-leading response capabilities."
New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "Keeping New Yorkers safe is our number one priority and the State has highly-trained personnel experienced in hazmat and disaster response that regularly plan for this type of scenario. While DHSES and our agency partners are well-equipped to respond, federal officials and the transportation industry must take additional measures to bolster preparedness efforts and prevent communities from experiencing further rail hazmat incidents."
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "Under Governor Kathy Hochul's leadership, New York State is laser focused on safety in all modes of transportation, especially rail safety and NYSDOT is actively working with our federal, state and industry partners to further advance safety measures for freight rail equipment and operations across the country and here in New York. Safety is everyone's responsibility and only through a comprehensive, coordinated effort can we reduce the risk of another hazmat incident and keep our communities safe."
Acting Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, “We applaud Governor Hochul for prioritizing the health and safety of New Yorkers and guarding against future transportation disasters. We are committed to ensuring the air we breathe and water we drink are safe from contaminants and continue to work with DEC and other state, local and federal partners, as we monitor for any potential impacts the Ohio train derailment may have on New Yorkers.”
New York State remains a leader in freight rail hazard preparedness and response. In the aftermath of the Lac-Megantic crash in 2013, New York State initiated a comprehensive response planning and prepositioned response assets to prepare for a freight rail hazmat disaster, focusing specifically on crude oil. Through a multi-agency effort, with the Department of Environmental Conservation in the lead, New York State created Geographic Response Plans (GRPs) that guide local, county, state, federal and industry response operations in the event of an emergency - serving as a model for the rest of the nation. While New York continues to lead the nation in freight rail hazard preparedness, these additional measures the federal government and the rail industry can take to prevent disasters like the one in Ohio and ensure our response capabilities are sound.