(TRENTON) – Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic) today criticized the Christie administration’s decision to deny New Jersey residents basic information about the trains that travel through their neighborhoods transporting hazardous material:
“While others states have opted to keep their residents informed about the activity of these trains, the Christie administration is choosing to block this information and keep residents in the dark.
“Dozens of trains carrying millions of gallons of oil travel through Bergen County every week. It is unfair that the residents who would be impacted the most if something were to go wrong, are being deprived of information that could help. This is not just about transparency, but ensuring that residents are well-prepared and can contribute to a coordinated response in the case of an emergency.
“That is why I sponsored legislation (A-4283) to require owners of trains carrying hazardous material through the state to prepare and submit a response, cleanup and contingency plan to the state, and post that and related information on their websites. Training emergency personnel to respond to a derailment is great, but keeping the public informed should also be part of our strategy.
“An educated public can make for a smoother response to an emergency situation, and help provide a safer outcome. I hope the governor will reconsider and make this information available to residents to help minimize the impact of a derailment, especially for those who are at greater risk.”
According to a recent news article, New Jersey has become a major corridor for oil shipments, with 15 to 30 trains traveling every week on the CSX River Line into Bergen County from New York State. Each train carries as much as 3.6 million gallons past thousands of homes in Northvale, Norwood, Harrington Park, Closter, Haworth, Haworth, Bergenfield, Teaneck, Bogota, Ridgefield Park and Ridgefield on its way to a refinery in Philadelphia.
The bill (A-4283) sponsored by Eustace was in response to the 2012 Conrail train derailment in Paulsboro, which leaked vinyl chloride — a carcinogenic gas used in making PVC plastics — into the atmosphere. More than 200 homes in the 2.2-square-mile town were evacuated following the incident.