Norfolk Southern – About a month ago, a Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, spilled hazardous materials.
The company and government have been working to quell the problem for weeks.
Residents in the neighboring areas were forced to flee, but returned claiming health concerns.
Workers are allegedly growing very sick at the scene of the Norfolk Southern catastrophe.
Twelve union officials met with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Amit Bose in Washington, DC on Wednesday.
They convened to talk about the disaster, its ramifications, and the necessity for immediate safety precautions.
Mike Baldwin, president of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, stated:
“My hope is the stakeholders in this industry can work towards the same goals related to safety when transporting hazardous materials by rail.”
“Today’s meeting is an opportunity for labor to share what our members are seeing and dealing with day to day.”
“The railroaders labor represents are the employees who make it safe and they must have the tools to do so.”
According to Jeremy Ferguson, president of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers, Buttigieg expects to enter into additional discussions with unions.
“This was a good start,” he said. “It’s important these safety issues are addressed. No one wants another East Palestine.”
“The safety discussion of employees must be addressed. The running of these long trains was a point of discussion as well.”
The meetings are in reaction to a letter sent to the DOT and the FRA on Wednesday by union officials saying rail personnel became ill at the site of the Norfolk Southern catastrophe.
The general chairman of the American Rail System Federation of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters addressed it to the following individuals:
- Pete Buttigieg
- Amit Bose
- East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway
- Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine
According to the letter, Norfolk Southern train employees who have worked on the cleanup or are presently working on it are experiencing headaches and nausea.
Due to his symptoms, one worker supposedly requested a transfer, but his manager did not reply, and he was left to work at the crash site.
According to the letter, workers were not provided with the appropriate personal protective equipment:
- Eye protection
- Protective clothing
Additionally, union leaders stated that 35 to 40 employees were working on the train without the proper breathing equipment, coverups, boots, or rubber gloves.
They were only dressed in paper and N95 masks.
A Norfolk Southern representative afterwards reported that the company arrived immediately at the catastrophe scene to coordinate their response.
The organization collaborated with hazardous material professionals to ensure that the location was accessible and that the appropriate PPE was used.
Following the Norfolk Southern disaster, numerous bipartisan senators introduced legislation to prevent train disasters on Wednesday morning.
The Railway Safety Act of 2023 specifies strict safety regulations for trains transporting dangerous goods.
It will also increase the number of times railway carriages are examined.
In addition, the Act requires competent two-person crews to work on trains transporting hazardous chemicals and sanctions fines for noncompliance.
Following the Norfolk Southern derailment, Republican and Democratic senators pressed Biden administration officials to prioritize dealing with the issue.
Some Democrats also blasted former President Donald Trump for eliminating railway safety regulations while he was still in office.
Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, delivered the following statement:
“It shouldn’t take a massive railroad disaster for elected officials to put partisanship aside and work together for the people we serve – not corporations like Norfolk Southern.”
Brown will introduce the bill with his Republican colleague, Ohio Senator JD Vance.
The following persons also support the law:
- Bob Casey, D-Pa.
- John Fetterman, D-Pa.
- Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
- Josh Hawley, R-Mo.
“Through this legislation, Congress has a real opportunity to ensure that what happened in East Palestine will never happen again,” said Vance.
“We owe every American the peace of mind that their community is protected from a catastrophe of this kind.”
Mike Baldwin also expressed support for the legislation, saying:
“If this legislation is adopted, the [Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen] supports those efforts and looks forward to working collaboratively on common sense regulations that continue to improve safety.”
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