Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., on Wednesday urged the National Transportation Safety Board to expand its rail safety investigation beyond Norfolk Southern to other major rail companies after last month’s derailment. in East Palestine, Ohio.
in a letter Speaking to Jennifer Homendy, chair of the NTSB, Schumer said it is «jarringly evident» that the industry «is desperately in need of a full and thorough investigation.»
He cited a «worrying and fatal combination» of factors, including deregulations, more than 26,500 accidents and incidents in the past five years, as well as more than 30,000 job cuts.
«I strongly urge you to expand your investigation into the safety practices of all Class I freight railroads operating across the country, including the BNSF Railway, CSX, Union Pacific, Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, and Kansas City Southern; and issue findings, recommendations, and regulations to improve rail safety across the country,» Schumer wrote in the letter, first reported by political.
Class I railroads are the largest freight rail companies as measured by operating income.
Schumer said, “As we have seen firsthand, the freight rail industry has time and again played dangerously fast and loose with regulations while endangering millions of Americans across the country.”
NBC News has reached out to the NTSB for comment on the letter.
The NTSB launched an investigation earlier this month into Norfolk Southern’s safety culture and practices following the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals in eastern Palestine and other similar accidents.
Hours before Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw appeared at a congressional hearing last week on the Ohio derailment, another of the company’s trains derailed in Calhoun County, Alabama. The Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency said there were no reports of injuries or dangerous leaks.
It was the third derailment involving Norfolk Southern since last month.
In his letter, Schumer asked Homendy to consider providing regulations and standards to improve safety, any recent deregulatory drives that might have contributed to derailments across the country, and whether the industry has a culture of ignoring its own safety protocols.
«Statistics and data on accidents and incidents for Class I railroads can only tell part of the story,» he wrote. «They tell us how many accidents or incidents have occurred in the last five years, 26,563, but they don’t say whether those accidents occurred in populated areas or how many gallons of oil were spilled or toxic chemicals were released.»
He added: «They tell us how many level crossing accidents there were, but not if it happened because the tracks are severely degraded or poorly designed. They can tell us how many fatalities there were, 2,768, but not why or if company policies could have prevented them. «.
The Ohio Attorney General’s office sued Norfolk Southern in federal court Tuesday, alleging it was negligent in causing the derailment.