The bill would require railroads to notify the state's Office of
Emergency Services when trains carrying crude oil from Canada and
North Dakota are headed to refineries in the most populous U.S.
It passed its final vote in the Assembly 61-1, with strong
bipartisan support in the state legislature in Sacramento. The bill
now goes to Democratic Governor Jerry Brown for his signature.
“We have a spotlight on this issue because of the seriousness of the
risk to public safety that it presents,” said the bill's author,
Democratic Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, whose district encompasses
parts of Sacramento along the trains’ route.
The legislation follows a disastrous oil train derailment in Canada
that killed 47 people and spilled 1.6 million gallons of crude last
Worried that a similar spill could happen in California,
firefighters and other safety officials have urged state lawmakers
to increase safety regulations on oil trains and improve
communication between railroads and first responders about when oil
shipments are coming through.
President Barack Obama proposed new safety requirements last month
that could lower speed limits for trains carrying oil and increase
safety standards for oil tank cars.
The volume of oil shipped by train through California has increased
dramatically in recent years, public safety experts told a
legislative committee at a hearing in June.
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The influx has been propelled by increased production in Western
Canada and North Dakota without an accompanying boost in pipeline
Oil and rail industry representatives told lawmakers that they had
already done much to improve safety. BNSF Railway lobbyist Juan
Acosta testified that the company had agreed to slow its oil trains
to 40 mph and increase inspections of its tracks.
Railroads are not currently required to proactively share their oil
train schedules with first responders.
(additional reporting by Aaron Mendelson in Sacramento; Editing by
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