Florida Derailment Strengthens Case for Urgently Needed Railway Safety Proposal

“The culprit is corporate greed, not a secret conspiracy.”

By Julia Conley.  Published 2-28-2023 by Common Dreams

A train derailed in Manatee County, Florida on February 28, 2023.
(Photo: @djcalligraphy/Twitter)

Shortly after two progressive lawmakers unveiled legislation that would require more stringent federal regulations for trains carrying hazardous materials, a train carrying propane fuel through Manatee County, Florida derailed and made the latest case for far-reaching action, according to advocates.

Brittany Muller of WFLA News Channel 8reported that “one tanker carrying 30,000 gallons of propane has rolled off the tracks.”

South Manatee Fire Rescue was responding to the derailment, Muller said, in which at least six train cars had left the tracks.

Spectrum News 13 reported that “five railcars and two propane tankers have derailed at the site” and that no injuries or propane leaks were evident.

Citing South Manatee Fire District Chief Robert Bounds, ABC7 reported that “more than 150 feet of track has been mangled and will have to be replaced.

“It may take between 1-3 days to transfer the propane from the tankers involved,” according to the outlet.

Noting that the exact details of the derailment and the damage done are not yet known, labor-focused media organization More Perfect Union said the “culprit” behind the accident—like the environmental disaster still unfolding in East Palestine, Ohio after a derailment earlier this month—is “corporate greed.”

As Common Dreams reported Tuesday, aggressive lobbying by the railroad industry has resulted in lax regulations, defining a “high-hazard” train as one carrying hazardous materials in at least 20 consecutive cars or 35 total.

Rail companies have also adopted a scheduling system that prioritizes speed over safety, pushed to have smaller train crews, and refused to provide paid sick leave to workers.

“Images taken at the site of the derailment show how severely the track has been mangled, and further demonstrate the need to listen to unions rail workers,” said More Perfect Union, “and take decisive regulatory action.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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