WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 10, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), in her work on rail safety for the District of Columbia and as a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, sent her staff on Wednesday to observe rail car safety training exercises being conducted by the D.C. Fire and EMS Department along the CSX railroad. Norton said that her staff attended the CSX rail car safety training tour and was briefed on safety procedures along the tracks and new mandatory safety requirements for High-Hazard Flammable Trains. Norton said she appreciated that CSX invited not only staff, but also local ANC commissioners who are closest to the D.C. residents most affected by the upcoming construction on the CSX Virginia Avenue tunnel. Norton said that perhaps the chief concern of residents was the possibility of an accident during the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project that could cause smoke or fire near their homes. She said that she has also received concerns from constituents that were discussed on the safety tour about leakage of hazmat materials into groundwater or other water supplies. Since Norton’s community meetings on the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a new rule mandating that certain high hazmat tank cars, 90% of which are owned by manufacturers, not CSX, must be retrofitted starting in May 2017 to comply with new safety regulations.
“I sent an expert on my staff to the safety tour because more was needed than the usual brief tour for Members. My staff was allowed to climb to the top of a standard tank car and locomotive used on CSX tracks and observe the safety technology features such as forward facing cameras and black boxes in the train operator cabins. CSX explained the new preventative safety measures on tracks, including an alert system that uses electronic meters placed every 20 miles to monitor the train cars and signal if there are any problems, such as a leak or fire. If a meter signals that there is an issue, the operator must halt the train immediately and inspect the affected train car. If the operator finds no problem, he or she can continue the train, but if a second meter detects a problem, the car must be removed from the tracks. This is the kind of safety assurance residents are entitled to. We will continue to work with CSX if more concerns arise.”