Eustace Praises Advocates, Reiterates Need for Crisis Response Plans Following News of Upcoming Oradell Reservoir Bridge Replacement

Assemblyman: Transporting Crude Oil Over Aging Bridge Poses Risk to Families, Businesses in Bergen County

After having stood with community advocates to call for its restoration, Assemblyman Tim Eustace on Tuesday welcomed news that a deteriorating 86-year-old railroad bridge used to transport highly-flammable Bakken crude oil over the Oradell Reservoir will be replaced this summer.

“Thanks to the hard work of grassroots activists, 800,000 of our residents no longer will have to live in fear of their drinking water being contaminated due to a faulty bridge,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “For months, the people of Bergen County have demanded this bridge replacement in order to keep their communities safe, and I am pleased to see proactive change regarding this matter.”

Eustace, sponsor of a bill (A-4283) that would require the owners of trains transporting oil along railroad tracks – CSX Corp., in the case of the aforementioned Oradell Reservoir bridge – to submit disaster response plans to the Department of Environmental Protection, stressed a need for increased emergency prevention and preparedness.

“Replacing this bridge is just one element of what must be a multi-faceted approach to making New Jersey’s infrastructure safer,” Eustace said. “Given the threat to public safety involved in transporting crude oil, it’s imperative for the state to require response plans, and I applaud the efforts Bergen County emergency response personnel already have made to ensure that Oradell and the surrounding communities will be prepared in the event of an accident.”

Under the bill, the owner or operator of an applicable train would also be required to post on its website, to the extent that the information does not conflict with federal law, information concerning: the routes and volumes of cargoes, updated on a monthly basis; an analysis of the consequences of maximum discharges from the high hazard trains owned or operated in the state; a copy of the most current discharge response, cleanup and contingency plan; and a railroad routing analysis and any accompanying documentation that impacted the owner or operator’s decision to route the train through the state.

The bill also would require the owner or operator of a high hazard train to offer training to the emergency services personnel of every local unit having jurisdiction along its travel route. In addition, the bill would require the train’s owner or operator to deliver and deploy sufficient emergency response, recovery and containment equipment and trained personnel to contain and recover the discharged materials and protect the public in the event of a discharge.

The bill, which in June received the approval of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee, now awaits the consideration of the full Assembly.