A group of DFL legislators, firefighters and other emergency officials and a citizen group used the second anniversary of the Lac-Megantic oil train disaster to hold a news conference demanding oil train safety.
That disaster killed 47, and decontamination continues today.
Members of Citizens Acting for Rail Safety held signs that said, "I live in the blast zone." About 326,000 Minnesotans live near train tracks carrying oil. The safety of oil trains has become a concern as the Bakken oil boom has rapidly increased the transport of fuel across states like Minnesota.
Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, said that in addition to improved rail safety, legislators and rail safety advocates want more transparency from industry about their plans to prevent an accident or deal with one should it occur.
He pointed to a letter sent to BNSF Railway Co. in May that asked for that information after a company representative promised it at a January hearing.
In a response, Brian Sweeney of BNSF said the company has filed relevant documents with the state pursuant to 2104 legislation on safety and preparedness. The company has shared plans and done practice exercises with some emergency responders in St. Paul, Minneapolis and Dilworth, Sweeney wrote. And, he said, the company has "invested substantially in emergency response capability."
Gov. Mark Dayton's plan to improve grade crossings, estimated to cost $320 million, was rejected by the MInnesota Legislature before its adjournment last month.