Senator Maria Cantwell, Spokane city leaders, come together for - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Senator Maria Cantwell, Spokane city leaders, come together for oil tank car legislation

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Example of oil cars that come through Spokane Example of oil cars that come through Spokane
SPOKANE, Wash. -

Senator Maria Cantwell (D) arrived in Spokane on Tuesday to talk about the Crude by Rail Safety Act. The legislation is sponsored by Senators, Cantwell, Patty Murray (D) also of Washington, Dianne Feinstein (D) of California, and Tammy Baldwin (D) of Wisconsin.

The new legislation, if passed, would prohibit the use of unsafe tank cars, requiring them to be updated and would require railroads to more frequently be inspected and maintained. The volatility of the product being transported would also need to be closely monitored and regulated to reduce the risk of explosions. Hefty fines would be imposed on violators for failing to adhere.

Part of the concern for cities like Spokane that have oil trains running through them is the lack of adequate preparedness of first responders. Senator Cantwell says the new legislation would address that issue.

Just since February there have been four oil train derailments in North America and according to the US Department of Transportation there are estimated to be six more before the year's end.

"I've talked to first responders in other parts of the country who said to me that they didn't really have anything to do but stand there and let it burn for days," says Cantwell. Cantwell's legislation would provide more resources and training for first responders, especially in the event of a disaster.

Spokane would particularly benefit from the act because at least two trains carrying crude pass through the heart of downtown daily. "In the next several years people are estimating that the number could increase to as many as sixteen trains in the future," says Cantwell. "We are in the midst of a boom of domestic energy production."

Spokane isn't the only city in the state that would be impacted. Most of Washington's major metropolitan areas would be affected by the legislation.

City council members are in full support of the Crude by Rail Safety Act and are taking steps to get legislation at the local level.

"Wednesday we will drop a resolution supporting this and add this to our legislative agenda," says Council President Ben Stuckart. "I'm sure council will support unanimously along with me and the mayor."

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