HARRISBURG, March 2 – State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, D-Phila., wrote a letter last week to the Republican chairman of the House Commerce Committee, and to the chairmen of the House Transportation Committee, and urged their cooperation in holding a joint hearing on derailments of trains carrying hazardous fuel sources.
"Accidents are bound to happen, as we saw recently with the derailment of an oil-train in West Virginia," Thomas said. "We need to make sure we are doing everything in our power to prevent accidents, and that we are ready to act if an incident like that were to ever happen in Philadelphia or anywhere in the commonwealth. I believe the best way to do that is by holding a joint hearing of the House Commerce and Transportation committees."
In his letter, Thomas noted a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article that said there are 45 to 80 trains carrying oil through Philadelphia each week and that amount could increase as market forces change. He also cited a data analysis performed by the U.S. Department of Transportation that predicted trains hauling oil and ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades.
"Current estimates anticipate that rail will move nearly 900,000 car loads of oil and ethanol this year, each of which can hold 30,000 gallons of fuel," Thomas said. "If just one accident occurs in a highly populated urban area, like Philadelphia, the result could be devastating in both the human and financial sense."
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