Sarasota train derailment: U.S. Representative pushes for 'thorough federal investigation'
MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (Tampa Bay Now) - Manatee County officials held a press conference Thursday in response to the recent train derailment in Sarasota. That train derailed Tuesday morning resulting in six rail cars turning on their sides. Five cars were carrying drywall and one had 30,000 gallons of liquid propane gas; it has since been removed from the site.
Manatee county leadership joined U.S. Congressman Vern Buchanan in a tour of the site to assess the damage and offer support to the affected community.
"The biggest concern is the propane - thirty thousand gallons. I'm… I'm hopeful. But until we get this resolved completely, I'm not going to sleep as well at night… not that it's a huge risk, but it is a risk," said U.S. Congressman Vern Buchanan.
Incidents like this have come under increased scrutiny since a derailment in early February that caused a massive explosion and fire in Palestine, Ohio. That derailment is the subject of a congressional hearing next week where the CEO of Norfolk Southern Railroad will testify about the precautions the railroad takes to prevent similar crashes.
During the tour of the hundred-year-old track Thursday in Sarasota, Congressman Buchanan expressed his concern and pledged to work with federal and state authorities to ensure a thorough investigation and response.
"The rail system is under pressure to even make sure that it's financially viable. There's always the push to de-regulate more and in a lot of industries that makes some sense. But in an industry like this, it's concerning. There's no leaks. But at the same time, we want to be sensitive because nothing is done until it's done."
Manatee County leadership is urging federal railroad authorities of the need for continued investment in infrastructure maintenance and upgrades.
"We have serious issues with our infrastructure and there are a lot of times poisonous chemicals going around on these trains going through our communities and through our neighborhoods," said Chairman Kevin Van Ostenbridge with the Manatee County Chamber of Commerce.
No injuries were reported and the investigation into the cause of the derailment continues. Officials expect the site of the derailment to be cleared in about 4 days. Tampa Bay Now will continue to monitor this developing story and provide updates as more information becomes available.
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