Congressman says residents have a right to know what went wrong in close call for local neighborhoods
Congressman Brian Higgins is calling on the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to “thoroughly and expeditiously” investigate and publicly report on the details which led to a train derailment in East Aurora on Monday.
Higgins said insight into the cause will help to inform safety policies and protocols to prevent future accidents. In his letter to FRA Administrator Ronald Batory, Higgins wrote, “Residents who live in proximity to America’s freight railroads have the right to expect an appropriate level of federal oversight to ensure that the requisite capital investments are being made and that safety protocols are being observed. Transparency here will be key, as residents have a right to know what went wrong – why a neighborhood was forced to evacuate, and what corrective steps are being taken to prevent an occurrence like this from happening in the future.”
In November, Higgins and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) introduced the Fire Department Proper Response and Equipment Prioritization Act (FD PREP Act), designed to provide local fire departments with additional resources to respond to these types of emergencies by categorizing hazmat operations, training, and equipment acquisition relating to crude oil and ethanol rail traffic as “high priority” within its Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program. Higgins spoke about the legislation on the floor of the House of Representatives after a train derailed in Niagara Falls.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 1,283 train derailments occurred in the U.S. in 2019.