With Tuesday’s Amtrak Crash Underscoring Need for Better Rail Safety, Assemblyman Renews His Request for Federal & State Investigations
With Tuesday’s deadly Amtrak crash underscoring the need for better rail safety, Assemblyman John Burzichelli is renewing his call for both a federal and state investigation into the 2012 derailment of Conrail freight trains that unleashed hundreds of thousands of gallons of dangerous chemicals on the town of Paulsboro.
In doing so, Burzichelli sent letters to both U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman and Acting New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman on Wednesday asking that their respective offices open an investigation, if they haven’t already, to determine if criminal charges should be filed against Conrail. Burzichelli first requested investigations into the derailment last September.
In his letter, Burzichelli noted that:
“The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) identified several instances of alarming conduct on the part of Conrail. Among other things, the NTSB determined that Conrail’s failure to repair a defective locking mechanism on the bridge, contrary to the recommendations of its engineering consultant, combined with its failure to properly train rail crews to inspect the bridge, likely caused the accident.
“Four rail cars, three containing vinyl chloride and another containing ethanol, toppled into Mantua Creek when the freight train derailed. An estimated 200,000 gallons of vinyl chloride were released into the atmosphere, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents, closing area schools and sending dozens to the hospital. Some 2,000 individuals, many of whom claim that they continue to suffer significant health complications since the accident, have filed lawsuits against Conrail. If Conrail’s negligence or recklessness is indeed to blame for this tragedy, Conrail must be held criminally responsible.”