CSX derailment into bay makes the case for city crude oil train bill

The derailment of four CSX cars into the Susquehanna River during Friday’s wind storm is just the latest example of the risks inherent in transporting hazardous cargo by rail (“CSX train derailed, four cars fell into Susquehanna River amid wind storm,” March 4). Thankfully, none of the four cars involved in Friday night’s derailment were carrying hazardous materials. If they had, they could have released toxins right at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. No matter how many oysters are planted in the bay, that’s one mess they wouldn’t be able to clean up.

Friday’s wind storm was no doubt severe, but it’s alarming to me that train cars could just fall into a river due to wind. This storm was predicted for several days — why weren’t more precautions taken? Amtrak suspended its operations because of the storm, but apparently CSX did not. These types of incidents are preventable, but unfortunately CSX has demonstrated time and again that it will not invest in infrastructure or take safety precautions to protect our communities or our water from derailments or spills.

Thankfully, there are steps we can take to prevent the likelihood of rail incidents involving hazardous materials such as crude oil. Our City Council recognized this last week when they gave preliminary approval to a bill that would ban new crude oil terminals in the city. If a new crude oil terminal were built in Baltimore, thousands of rail cars of crude oil would have to travel throughout the state to get to it, including over bridges like the one over the Susquehanna.

I applaud the city’s leadership and look forward to Mayor Catherine Pugh signing the Crude Oil Terminal Prohibition to make a crude oil spill into our beautiful bay less likely.

Matt Peterson, Lutherville

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