Wyden, Merkley Seek Answers on Railway Safety Standards

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today requested an update from Union Pacific and BNSF on the railway companies’ plans to ensure trains carrying hazardous material have updated braking systems.

“Too often our constituents in the Pacific Northwest have seen trains carrying crude oil crashing within and around their communities,” the lawmakers wrote. “We have seen these trains crash near school buildings, small businesses, and homes, causing extensive damage to communities and putting our environment at risk, including sources of drinking water as well as river habitats that house endangered fish species.”

The lawmakers continued, “Our constituents, many of whom live, work, or go to school in the vicinity of rail lines that carry hazardous materials, need to know that their safety is being protected.”

The lawmakers’ letters to Union Pacific and BNSF follow the Trump administration’s recent announcement to roll back an Obama-era rule that required the installation of electronically controlled pneumatic braking systems by 2021—rules put into place after several destructive oil train crashes across the United States, including one in the Columbia River Gorge.

A full copy of the letter to Union Pacific can be found here.

A full copy of the letter to BNSF can be found here.

A web version of this release is available here.