Higgins, Schumer call for investigation into East Aurora train derailment

East Aurora
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EAST AURORA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Congressman Brian Higgins is calling on the Federal Railroad Administration to immediately investigate and publicly report on the details leading to a train derailment in East Aurora on Monday night.

Higgins says information on the cause will help prevent future accidents through advising safety policies and protocols.

“Residents who live in proximity to America’s freight railroads have the right to expect an appropriate level of federal oversight to ensure that the requisite capital investments are being made and that safety protocols are being observed. Transparency here will be key, as residents have a right to know what went wrong — why a neighborhood was forced to evacuate, and what corrective steps are being taken to prevent an occurrence like this from happening in the future,” Higgins wrote in a letter to the FRA Administrator.

To see the full letter click here.

Later in the day, Sen. Charles Schumer joined in the call for an investigation.

“This isn’t the first time a terrifying train derailment has happened in New York, and we need a full-scale investigation ASAP to sort out what happened and what actions should be implemented to prevent it from happening again,” Schumer said. “With better safety measures, accidents like the one last night in East Aurora are preventable, which is why I am calling on the Federal Railroad Administration to conduct a full and thorough investigation into the incident. New Yorkers deserve to sleep in peace and not worry about the possibility of a freight train overturning into their backyard.”

Here is Schumer’s letter to the Federal Railroad Administration:

“Dear Administrator Batory:

Last night, a freight train operated by Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad derailed in the Village of East Aurora, NY. According to local reports, 15 cars and three engines, of 98 cars, were derailed. While fortunately no injuries were reported, residents in the surrounding area had to be evacuated for their own safety. It has come to my attention that the train was carrying highly flammable petrochemicals and diesel fuel from the engine had to be cleaned up at the site.

Again, while it is fortunate there were no injuries, the situation could have been much worse. I call on the Federal Railroad Administration to conduct a full and thorough investigation into the cause of this incident and report any appropriate steps that should be taken to prevent such future incidents.

This is not the first time a railroad car carrying highly flammable materials has derailed in Western New York. In 2017, a CSX freight train derailed at the railroad crossing at Donahue Road in the town of Batavia, with one of the overturned cars carrying flammable gunpowder. Freight trains carrying flammable Bakken shale products routinely make shipments through New York and more must be done to ensure that cargo is carried safely.

I look forward to hearing the results of your investigation and working with you to implement safer standards and procedures to prevent future train derailments. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.”

Sen. Charles Schumer

Troy Licastro is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of his work here.

Evan Anstey is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here.

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