During an interview aired Thursday on CNN’s “The Lead,” National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Jennifer Homendy said that while electronically controlled air brakes (ECP) would make things more safe, with respect to the East Palestine derailment in Ohio, “Even with ECP brakes, the derailment would have occurred, the fire would have broken out, and the five vinyl chloride tank cars should still be ventilated and burned.” And, at best, they could have “reduced damage where a few cars might have stayed in the lanes”, but modeling still needs to be done to determine that.
Host Jake Tapper asked: “[E]Even with all 20 cars containing toxic materials, under current safety rules, this train still did not qualify for the High Risk Flammable Train designation, which would have gotten it – or would have required at least a newer and safer braking. Thus, this rule as it now stands was clearly inadequate for the citizens of eastern Palestine. Why not add the new braking system to any train transporting hazardous materials, not just those transporting more than 20 wagons of hazardous materials? »
Homendy replied, “The NTSB has been studying electronically controlled air braking for several years and we have also done some testing. It would certainly improve security. Had it not been for this investigation and this derailment, the ECP brakes would not have prevented the derailment. Car number 23’s wheel bearing failed, so even with ECP brakes, the derailment would have occurred, the fire would have broken out, and all five vinyl chloride tank cars would still have had to be vented and burned. What it could have done is maybe reduce the damage where a few cars could have stayed on the tracks, but we’re going to do some modeling with the Federal Railroad Administration to determine exactly that.
During Twitter feed on February 14, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the Department of Transportation is “constrained by law in certain areas of rail regulation,” such as the ECP brake rule.
We are limited by law in some areas of rail regulation (such as the brake rule removed by the Trump administration in 2018 due to legislation passed by Congress in 2015), but we use the powers we have to ensure the safety of people. https://t.co/xRyyYpGOwd
— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) February 14, 2023
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