A South Jersey lawmaker wants rail freight companies to follow new rules, after the train derailment and hazardous chemical spill one week ago in Paulsboro.

Aerial shot of Paulsboro train derailment
Aerial shot of Paulsboro train derailment (US Coast Guard)

Jersey Congressman Rob Andrews says obviously, based on what happened, "The system isn't working very well at all - the law right now is the railroads self-inspect and self report, and apparently on multiple times before this derailment trains approached the bridge- there was a red light that says they shouldn't go."

He says, "I don't believe we should be able to inspect our own vehicles and put an inspection sticker on our car. We have to take it to the inspection station- and I think the railroad companies should have to do the same thing…What we have to do right now is assure the residents of Paulsboro the air is clean and they can return to their homes- and that's what I'm focused on - but once that is done…We have to gather the facts on this and I think legislation that requires a competent public inspector to look at these bridges and rail lines is needed."

Andrews points out, "New Jersey Transit buses get inspected - the commuter rail that your listeners ride get inspected- I think the Amtrak rails get inspected. I know they do, so certainly I think the freight rails should be inspected as well…I think this company does the right thing -tries to - I'm not being critical of Conrail, but our students don't grade their own exams."

He adds the legislation would be common sense.

"There needs to be standards that are developed by experts in the field, there need to be inspectors who are competent - I think those inspectors could be supported by a small fee paid by the railroad companies themselves, and you'd inspect on a regular basis and make sure the rails and the bridges are safe - it seems pretty simple to me."

Andrews also says, "The fact that we do not have this for freight rail, I think is a rather significant omission in the public safety laws in our country."

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