Take Action on Rail Safety

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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) is pleased to invite Bergen County residents to attend a community engagement session regarding environmental justice with DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette and EPA Region 2 Chief of Staff & Senior Advisor for Equity Olivia Glenn.

In-Person and Virtual Options Available

Thursday, February 23

6:00 PM to 7:30 PM

Mellone-Mariniello Recreation Center,

116 Holt Street, Hackensack

via Zoom

Register for link

Spanish interpretation available through Zoom

This community engagement session is part of the Administration’s commitment to promoting environmental justice in New Jersey to ensure that all state residents, regardless of race, ethnicity, color, national origin, or income are able to live, learn, work, and recreate in a healthy and clean environment and to have equal access to green space, clean energy resources, and other environmental benefits.

We know you are aware of the serious derailment of Norfolk Southern trains carrying hazardous materials such as vinyl chloride in East Palestine. Burning of vinyl chloride released extremely dangerous dioxins and other toxic materials that will jeopardize people’s health for decades. Rail Companies have put profits (which are huge) over maintenance and safety. Their lobbying in Congress and even in states like New Jersey, has resulted in weak regulations, almost no transparency, extremely long trains, elimination of regulations regarding inspections and maintenance, reduction of crew size, horrible working conditions, and weakening of the definition and classification of certain materials as hazardous. Classification is important because it is related to safety precautions. There’s been a reduction in numbers of trains with 20th century Electronically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) braking, leaving trains with braking developed in 1868. The people in East Palestine are facing a dangerous short and long term health crisis.

Much of this happened during the Trump administration, but the Biden Administration has not done enough to strengthen regulations or to restore rules for brakes. There has been excellent coverage in www.levernews.com as well as in the New York Times.

Here in NJ, the Coalition to Ban Unsafe Oil Trains has been working hard on the issue of rail safety since 2014, one year after the derailment in Lac Mégantic, Quebec which resulted in the tragic death of 47 children and adults. Many of you have been at CBUOT meetings, demonstrations, forums, and press conferences, and you have testified in the State Senate and Assembly committees in support of the Oil Train Safety Bill, first introduced by Senator Loretta Weinberg in 2014. This legislation has been defeated or pulled year after year. Basically, it required a cleanup plan and transparency. Shamefully, even the weakened version of the bill last year was pulled on the last day of the session and no vote was taken. The excuse year after year was that transparency was a security risk. We believe that transparency about what is in the rail cars is critically important. You can see in reports from Ohio, that little was known about what was in some of the cars making it very difficult for first responders. If you’re worried about security, look at the graffiti on tank cars that go through our towns and cities. This is the map showing the route of what we call “bomb trains” because they blow up like a bomb. https://stand.earth/resources/do-you-live-in-an-oil-train-blast-zone/

You Can Help: We will send you updates about the Rail Safety legislation for NJ so we can all work together to get it passed. Please sign the action alert below urging people to send a message to Secretary Buttigieg with specific demands to implement regulations to make these trains safer.


We want to urge you to attend in-person or on-line the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) for Bergen County residents community engagement session regarding environmental justice with DEP this Thursday, February 23! Click on the link on the box below if you want to get the zoom link. Click on this link if you would like suggestions for comments or questions for the hearing: https://bit.ly/bergen-ej-meeting

Paula Rogovin, Coalition to Ban Unsafe Oil Trains

Take Action to Protect our Communities and Strengthen Rail Regulations

Demand that Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg reinstate rules on braking systems and strengthen regulations on the transport of hazardous material by rail. Click on: https://secure.foodandwaterwatch.org/act/protect-our-communities-from-preventable-disaster

Or you can send him a message from your phone by texting the phrase “bomb train” to the number 23321. Once you do that, you’ll get a link to a petition you can send him in just a few clicks right from your phone.