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Reineke Unveils Select Committee on Rail Safety Report

September 14, 2023
Bill Reineke News

COLUMBUS—State Senator Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin), Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Rail Safety, today released the committee's final report and recommendations. The committee was formed following the train derailment in East Palestine to understand how it happened, evaluate the recovery efforts, and issue recommendations on recovery, prevention, and response planning to facilitate future efforts should another tragedy occur in Ohio.

"Our report and recommendations are the culmination of our members' collaborative work. We have found the primary problems and developed potential next steps," Chair Reineke said. "There is more work to be done, but the committee has laid the groundwork for us to succeed. I'm grateful for all the members' input and the numerous hours they spent hearing testimony and in East Palestine to understand how we can help this community."

The report includes several recommendations by the committee, such as:

  • Encourage the passage of U.S. Senators Vance and Brown's Railway Safety Act of 2023 and urge improved coordination between state and federal governments to better communicate their oversight and responsibilities of trains and rail safety to the general public.
  • Establish a clear and concise chain of command when emergencies occur.
  • Provide additional resources for training for volunteer fire and EMS personnel.
  • Consider emerging technology that can quickly identify rail cars and the materials in them to assess how to manage accidents and limit the damage that occurs due to a derailment.
  • Request continued long-term testing of soil and water at and near the derailment in East Palestine for a period of at least 20 years.
    Encourage improved communication between rail companies and local Emergency Management Agencies to better equip local communities with the necessary information to improve their response to potential emergencies.
  • Request funding for a report on agriculture in the East Palestine region in the next operating budget.
  • Encourage research on alternative resources that may be utilized by first responders to put out hazardous material fires.
  • Advocated for provisions enacted in the Operating Budget providing $100M for Rail Safety Crossing.

The Ohio legislature has already enacted provisions in House Bill 23, the state's transportation budget, requiring two-person crews, mandating the use and installation of more wayside detectors by train companies, and charging the Public Utilities Commission with completing a study on the effectiveness of wayside detectors.

To view the committee's entire report, click here.