CINCINNATI — Ohio lawmakers want stricter regulations for trains carrying hazardous materials following this month's train derailment in East Palestine. Gov. Mike DeWine said it was “absurd” that no state officials were told about the chemicals on board the derailed Norfolk Southern train.
No one was told because the train was not considered highly hazardous because most of the cars weren’t carrying hazardous materials.
Lawmakers want that to change.
“We need to know. The governor is absolutely correct and the question now is can the administration do that rule change without congress, and if so, they should pursue it because that would happen more quickly,” said Rep. Greg Landsman.
Lt. Gov. John Husted agrees.
“The railroad is responsible for this mistake, and if that means that the federal government needs to step in because they’re the ones that regulate these railroads and then by all means, they need to act now,” Husted said.
Landsman noted the investigation into the train derailment will help Ohio better understand what needs to be done to prevent this from happening again.
“I think it’s time for a 21st-century train safety piece of legislation that really tackles all of the various issues that have come up,” Landsman said.
In areas with large railyards, such as Cincinnati, firefighters practice this type of situation often.
“One of the heavy rescue companies downtown and the other hazardous materials technicians on duty would respond to that location,” said Cincinnati Fire District Chief Mike Cayse.
He said Hamilton County Emergency Management notifies them when certain hazardous materials come through Cincinnati.
“Certain hazardous materials are regulated based on their weight, their size, the amount, how often they come through that kind of stuff,” Cayse said.
Cayse said it would almost be too much to get notified about every single hazardous material that comes into the city.
“Day-to-day shipments, there are thousands and thousands of cars of hazardous material that go through here all the time, so to notify us on every single one of them all the time, it wouldn’t change our operation because even if we knew it or didn’t know it our response would be exactly the same,” Cayse said.
This article was written by Jessica Hart for WCPO.