Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said in an interview that aired on Thursday’s episode of CNN’s “The Lead” that while electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes would make things safer, “even with ECP brakes, the derailment would have occurred, the fire would have ensued, and the five vinyl chloride tank cars would still have to be vented and burned.”
Moreover, modeling still needs to be done to evaluate whether they could have, at most, “reduced damage where a handful of cars could have remained on the tracks.”
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“[E]ven with the 20 cars with poisonous materials, under current safety guidelines, that train still did not qualify for certification as a high-hazard flammable train, which would have gotten it — or required at least a better, safer stopping system,” host Jake Tapper questioned.
So, it is obvious that the rule, as it stands now, was insufficient for the residents of East Palestine. Why not install the more modern braking system on all trains hauling hazardous materials, not only those with more than 20 hazardous material-carrying cars?
Homendy responded, “We conducted some testing as well as the NTSB’s years-long investigation into electronically controlled pneumatic brakes. It would undoubtedly increase safety. ECP brakes would not have stopped the derailment if not for this probe and this derailment.
Even with ECP brakes, the derailment would have happened, the fire would have started, and the five vinyl chloride tank cars would still have needed to be vented and burned since the wheel bearing on car number 23 failed. The Federal Railroad Administration and I will conduct some modeling to ascertain whether it may have decreased damage in the areas where a few vehicles could have remained on the rails.
The Department of Transportation is “limited by law on some aspects of rail regulation,” such as the ECP brakes rule, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg claimed during a Twitter conversation on February 14.
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