oil train

An oil train heads south along the Susquehanna River near Bainbridge in Conoy Township this week.

Lancaster County officials aren’t the only ones expressing concern over oil trains passing through communities along the Susquehanna River.

Harrisburg City Council Tuesday night passed a resolution that urges Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve the designs of rail cars that carry explosive crude oil across the country and through populated areas.

The resolution also urged the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to help local emergency responders better prepare for the possibility of an oil-train accident.

Oil cars are owned by producers, not railroad companies. Norfolk Southern has lobbied for higher tank car standards for years, according to spokesman Dave Pidgeon.

Some 16,000 people in Harrisburg live in the half-mile evacuation zone in the case of an accident involving crude oil.

The oil is being transported from the Bakken oil regions of the Dakotas and Canada to refineries in Philadelphia and Delaware.

In Lancaster County, oil trains with Bakken crude pass along about 35 miles of tracks along the Susquehanna River eight to 16 times a week, according to Norfolk Southern.

“It’s a definite concern for responders here in Lancaster County,” Randy Gockley, director of the Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency, said in a LNP story in March.

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