Rep. Frank Hornstein
Minnesota House of Representatives
243 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dibble, Hornstein Call New Report "Wake-up Call" for Oil Transportation Safety
ST. PAUL—Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Frank Hornstein, (DFL—Minneapolis) called today's release of a Department of Public Safety (DPS) report a "wake-up call" to improve oil transportation safety in Minnesota.
The study indicates that almost every county in Minnesota is along or near a train or pipeline route carrying oil through Minnesota. "There are gaps in our response to a major oil spill or fire that put Minnesotans at risk," Rep. Hornstein said. "The railroad and pipeline companies need to better address safety."
Sen. Dibble noted the report's survey data from local fire and emergency responders was particularly concerning. "The majority of those surveyed said they were not familiar enough with these kinds of incidents, how best to respond, and were unaware of what additional equipment or resources they might need to respond to an oil transportation disaster. Additional and better training, and more information is essential for responder preparedness,” said Sen. Dibble. “It is alarming that emergency officials in local communities rate their area's preparedness for an oil transportation incident as below moderate. We need to make it a high priority for our local emergency agencies to have the tools, information and training to keep our communities and themselves safe."
Rep. Hornstein praised the report's recommendation that pipeline companies be held to higher standards for rapid response to a major oil spill. The DPS report concluded pipeline companies do not have "well defined responsibilities" when it comes to spill preparedness and response. Rep. Hornstein plans to introduce legislation to implement the report's recommendations.
The "Minnesota's Preparedness for an Oil Transportation Incident" report was required under oil transportation safety legislation signed into law last year. The DPS report follows a MN DOT study that recommended improvements to highway-rail grade crossings on routes with oil trains. Sen. Dibble's comprehensive transportation bill introduced earlier this week includes $5 million for basic “at grade” rail crossing and $122 million for rail crossing that would require and under or overpass. Sen. Dibble’s bill requires a 50% funding match from the railroad companies and would adequately fund an initial set of rail crossings shown to have the highest public safety risks. The report can be found online at https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/hsem/planning-preparedness/Documents/mn-preparedness-oil-transportation-incident-report.pdf
Rep. Hornstein can be reached at 612-965-3406
and Sen. Dibble’s office can be reached by contacting Skyler Vilt at 651-296-1240