Several Democratic senators will introduce a bill Thursday to provide aid to local first responders for train derailments, ABC News reported.
The bill, led by Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, would establish a fund managed by the Federal Railroad Administration and paid for by shippers and carriers transporting hazardous materials to reimburse local officials responding to train derailments, according to ABC News. The bill comes after a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, and a controlled burn cast a plume of toxic chemicals over the town, raising concern over air and water quality.
The bill would also require local officials be notified if hazardous materials are being transported through their community, ABC News reported.
“The first responders who risked their lives and wellbeing to protect Pennsylvania and Ohio from Norfolk Southern’s disaster are heroes who deserve much more than our gratitude,” Casey said, according to ABC News.
The bill is co-sponsored by Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. Brown also proposed a bipartisan bill alongside Republican Ohio Sen. JD Vance called The Railway Safety Act of 2023, which would enhance safety regulations for trains that carry hazardous materials.
“The Assistance for Local Heroes During Train Crises Act will help our communities better prepare for future derailments and cover the cost of damaged equipment, overtime pay, and more—all paid for by the companies that ship and carry these materials,” Casey reportedly said. “Along with the Railway Safety Act, this legislation will help keep our communities safe from hazardous train derailments and hold railroads accountable for the damage these crises inflict.”
There was an average of 1,475 annual train derailments between 2005 and 2021, according to Department of Transportation data. Local first responders are often the first to arrive on the crash site.
Norfolk Southern will open a first responder training center on March 22 in Bellevue, Ohio, at the request of Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, according to a March 8 press release. The center will “be focused on providing additional, free training for first responder across the region, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia” and will “strengthen coordination between railroads and first responders in the event of an emergency response.”
Casey did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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