ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) — A little over 10 years after Norfolk Southern had a derailment in Elmira, New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer visited the city this week to demand new safety protocols for rail safety.
Schumer’s Monday visit comes on the heels of two Norfolk Southern train derailments twenty nine days apart in Ohio that have sparked rain safety concerns across the country.
“We can’t let safety for Upstate New York go off the rails. It is time to fast track commonsense rail-safety reform,” said Schumer.
The issue of rail safety isn’t something that is theoretical in the Southern Tier. In 2011, a Norfolk Southern rail car derailed off an elevated track into a parking lot In Elmira, and at the time the company did not report the incident.
“In 2011, let’s see, that’s 12 years ago, Norfolk Southern had a train derailment up this very line you see behind us. The train car fell off the bridge, flipped over in a parking lot at a nearby business in a parking lot two blocks away,” said Schumer.
Schumer was joined by local fire and emergency officials to drive home how important the issue is. While the area is ready for some issues, there are gaps.
“Dependent on what happens if it was a small leak, we are trained and prepared to handle small emergencies like that but something like what happened in Ohio we could not possibly handle that,” said Elmira Fire Department Chief Andrew Mallow.
Schumer is demanding Norfolk Southern, alongside other rail companies, step forward and take action to prevent another East Palestine’s, where residents still have concerns over air, soil and water quality.
The end goal, Schumer said, is holding railroad companies accountable for their wrongdoing.