That’s why we have come together to introduce the Derail Act, the first piece of legislation in Congress to hold the railroads accountable and protect Americans. The bill will ensure that trains carrying hazardous materials are properly classified and rail carriers are required to take proper safety precautions when carrying these materials across the country. That means investing in newer rail cars, better braking equipment, setting stricter speed limits, and more.
Our legislation will also improve information sharing by requiring rail carriers to report to the National Response Center, state officials and local officials within 24 hours after a train carrying toxic chemicals derails. This is something concrete that we can do to address the wrongs of what happened.
This bill is an important step forward, but there is much more that needs to be done. Under the Trump administration, the Department of Transportation repealed a train safety rule that would have required trains carrying highly hazardous material to have electronic brakes installed to help stop quickly. That rule should be immediately reinstated. The Biden administration should also work closely with DoT to establish new, commonsense rules like preventing older train cars from carrying dangerous materials and mandating two-person minimum crews to help respond in the case of an emergency.
To directly help the people of East Palestine and Darlington Township, we should require Norfolk Southern, the railroad responsible for the accident, to pay for all clean up and relocation costs. The EPA has already ordered the company to offer cleaning services to those impacted and has the power to charge it $70,000 per day for failure to comply. If a company can afford to pay their CEO $4m a year and provide billions in stock buybacks to shareholders, it can afford to clean up the wreckage it has caused.