The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported its findings in the investigation of the 2012 train derailment in Paulsboro today. Assembly Deputy Speaker John Burzichelli, who is also the former mayor of Paulsboro, told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that he is offended by some of what he saw in the report.
Burzichelli said that he is not happy with what he saw in the NTSB report and he is offended by some of it. He said he is not pleased by information that isn’t there, including no mention of Conrail’s lack of attention to infrastructure and trying to operate a 21st century railroad over a 19th century bridge. He said that was inadequate to start with and the report does not go into enough details in those areas with recommendations to Congress.
He said that the railroads are important, as well as what they transport. He said that safety comes first and Conrail put a lot of people at risk. Burzichelli said that he is offended by the tone that the report takes suggesting that the first responders should have acted differently. He said that he was there and he can say that the steps were taken to protect the public interest and public safety.
When asked why the town did not know about what was being carried on the train, which was vinyl chloride, Burzichelli said that it is because Conrail did not provide that information to the first responders, which put them at a disadvantage.
Burzichelli said that Paulsboro continues to study the incident because one can always learn from these experiences. He said that the best emergency response is the one that doesn’t happen and in this particular incident was a matter of neglect compounded by human error. He thinks that an operation like a federal railroad should have a hazardous response team within certain miles of operation to respond first because they know the product.
Gov. Chris Christie has called a special session to discuss bail reform on Thursday. Burzichelli said that he is working against the clock on the portion of the bail reform initiative that involves the constitution and a ballot question.
Burzichelli said that bail reform is a constitutional issue that will allow people who meet certain criteria to be pre-detained until their trial is held. He said that he is getting push back from this because there is great debate taking place over the structure of the ballot question itself. He said that he thinks that is the bigger part of the holdup than the Pre-Trial Risk Assessment Program.