In light of recent fiery train derailments across the United States and Canada, state officials want to make sure Wisconsin is taking preventive measures to keep our state safe.
During a public hearing at the state Capitol, Representative Chris Danou (D-Trempealeau) questions Wisconsin Railroad Commissioner Jeff Plale on safety issues and whether there would be adequate emergency response to a potential train crash.
Danou explains, as a former cop, he doesn’t believe in accidents. “An ‘accident’ implies an act of God,” he says. “When you have a train derailment or something, it’s either an equipment failure or personnel failure or something like that. My concern is even though, like you say, the statistics are very good, when there is a failure, it is catastrophic quite often.”
Plale says safely transporting all that oil across the country is a “work in progress.” He assures lawmakers the railroad industry has put a tremendous amount of attention on training first responders. “The industry has evolved so quickly that there is a game of catch up. There’s no question about that.”
AUDIO: Plale says there’s an issue with not enough information versus too much information when it comes to open records and notifying first responders when crude oil is being hauled through their city. :25
Officials want to make sure first responders have advance information when tons of crude oil will be transported through their city, but Plale says, they’re fully aware that people with ulterior motives might get access to that same information. While he acknowledges a catastrophic event could happen anywhere, including Wisconsin, Plale stresses there’s no need to panic every time you see a train.
Commissioner Plale gave an overview of his office to the Assembly on Transportation Committee on Tuesday.