The May 2 news article “ Latest fiery train wreck: Lynchburg, Va.” makes it appear as if these types of accidents occur routinely when the facts show otherwise.
According to the Association of American Railroads, 99.9977 percent of all hazardous material shipments reach their destinations without a release caused by an accident. Railroads have lowered hazmat accident rates by 91 percent since 1980 and 38 percent since 2000.
The federal government and its enforcement agencies have comprehensive regulations covering safety and security of hazmat movement by rail and require railroads to route hazardous materials on lines posing the least overall safety and security risk.
Finally, unlike other modes of transportation, railroads can’t “just say no” when it comes to moving hazmat. They, unlike the trucking or barge industries, are required by federal mandate to move hazardous materials and cannot refuse their movement.
Our railroads have a safety record unmatched by any other industry. Instead of misleading the public with attention-grabbing headlines, give credit where credit is due.
The writer is a former regional director at GoRail, a public policy nonprofit that advocates on behalf of America’s railroads.