Wisconsin’s US Senators have different views on how the federal government should react to a pair of recent freight train derailments in the state.
The two derailments earlier this month happened in different areas and under different carriers. A BNSF train derailed in Alma November 7 along the Mississippi River, spilling over 18,000 gallons of ethanol. A day later, several cars on a Canadian Pacific train derailed in Watertown on November 8, spilling about 500 gallons of crude oil.
US Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) wants to make sure there is more information available to those responding to such derailments, who often do not know what load a train was carrying and what might have been spilled. “We have real threats facing us, in terms of safety, because so much rail traffic with hazardous materials…pass through our communities every day.”
The Wisconsin Democrat renewed calls last week for language to be included in a federal transportation bill that requires rail companies to provide real-time tracking of hazardous materials, which can be made available to first responders in the event of a crash. She’s also asked for more transparency about bridge inspection reports.
Meanwhile, US Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) said the incidents could renew discussions about whether pipelines or rail are the safest method for moving hazardous materials, such as crude oil. “There’s no guaranteed safe way of transporting any of this stuff,” he said. “There’s problems with pipeline, there’s problem with rail. My own personal belief is it’s probably more dangerous shipping millions of barrels by rail than it is pipeline.”
The Wisconsin Republican said it might be a good idea to do a study on the safety of both methods.