Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Chelsea Creek Action Group Applauds the House of Representatives for uplifting Public Safety

(Chelsea, MA - May 1, 2014) The Chelsea Creek Action Group has engaged residents from Chelsea, East Boston, Revere and other municipalities in a campaign about the danger of transporting large quantities of ethanol by rail for almost three years.  The Chelsea Creek Action Group applauds Speaker DeLeo and the co-sponsors of Amendment 392 to the House Budget 4000 for uplifting the public safety hazards of mile-long ethanol trains traveling through densely populated areas.  
 
The Chelsea Creek Action Group is proud to stand with Speaker DeLeo and State Representatives Provost of Somerville, Vincent of Revere, Ryan of Chelsea, Basile of Boston, Toomey of Cambridge, Hecht of Watertown, Sannicandro of Ashland, Atkins of Concord, Keefe of Worcester, Khan of Newton, Rogers of Cambridge, Livingstone of Boston, Brodeur of Melrose, Matewsky of Everett, Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield, Decker of Cambridge, Walsh of Framingham, Garballey of Arlington and Honan of Boston to urge the Commonwealth’s agencies to work with federal and local counterparts to develop an ethanol transport response plan and temporarily prevent ethanol trains from traveling to the Greater Boston area. 
 
The Chelsea Creek Action Group (CCAG) is no stranger to getting legislation passed.  With strong support from our elected officials, CCAG was responsible for getting a law passed in August 2012 that required the Department of Transportation to commission a study to determine the impact on the public safety of transporting ethanol by train through Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Revere, and Somerville.  
 
The study detailed 31 ethanol train accidents throughout the United States between 2008 and 2012 and concluded that there is an insufficient amount of alcohol-resistant foam, equipment, and training for adequate response to an ethanol incident in Greater Boston. 
 
Since the Department of Transportation’s study on ethanol transport by rail, there have been 7 additional ethanol rail accidents throughout the United States in 2013, and an additional 12 rail accidents involving other hazardous material that required evacuation of surrounding neighborhoods throughout North America.  The risk of a horrific rail accident, like the derailment that happened in Lac-M├ęgantic, Quebec resulting in 47 deaths, is a public safety burden that cannot be mitigated.  The ethanol amendment was passed on April 30, 2014, the same day that the derailment of a train carrying crude oil in Lynchburg, Virginia caused extensive flames and generated an evacuation for nearby residents and workers.
 
Residents of Chelsea, East Boston, and Revere have long recognized the need for agency attention on hazardous material rail transport.  CCAG agrees with National Transportation Safety Board Chairperson Deborah Hersman that the Obama administration needs to take steps immediately to protect the public from potentially catastrophic train accidents even if it means using emergency authority.

CCAG and our allies will continue to work to stop the transport of ethanol by rail in densely populated communities.  The Chelsea Creek Action Group urges the Massachusetts Senate to pass a similar bill to the House budget amendment that requires: (1) a lengthy moratorium preventing the Department of Environmental Protection from issuing a chapter 91 license to oil facilities unless they receive ethanol by marine vessel and (2) the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency completion of an ethanol transport response plan.  The Senate vote on the budget is expected to happen by the end of May 2014.