Bustos fights to ensure first responders have resources to handle train derailments

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Following her visit earlier this week to the BNSF train derailment site south of Galena to thank first responders, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, fought today to ensure first responders in local communities have the training and resources they need in the event of a train derailment or fuel spill.

“Making sure that our local first responders have the resources and training necessary to respond to accidents is a priority of mine, especially after hearing firsthand from the dedicated responders who were called to react to the recent train derailment in our region,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. “This common sense effort is a step forward to help emergency personnel react quickly and effectively in the event of a future disaster. With the amount of crude oil transported by rail rising rapidly in recent years, and with accidents happening far too often, Congress must act quickly to keep our communities and our first responders safe.”

The Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs, and Safety Evaluation (RESPONSE) Act, supported by Bustos, creates a subcommittee under FEMA’s National Advisory Council to bring together agencies, emergency responders, technical experts, and the private sector to review training, best practices, resources and unmet needs related to railroad incidents. The subcommittee would provide recommendations to Congress on emergency responder training and resource allocation, addressing quality of training, funding levels, emergency response plans and improving the flow of information to local first responders. It would also help develop a train incident database.

Since the derailment, Bustos and her office have been in close touch with BNSF and federal, state and local agencies. On Monday, the first day that non-emergency personnel were permitted to the derailment site, Bustos thanked first responders and got to see the clean-up progress firsthand. She also met with local community leaders and officials in downtown Galena to hear their feedback on the impact of the accident to the surrounding area.

Earlier this week, Bustos called for renewed efforts to create the strongest possible safety standards for the transportation of flammable materials such as crude oil by rail in a letter sent to Transportation Secretary Foxx and Office of Management and Budget Director Donovan.