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Congressman calls for investigation into dangerous chemicals being carried on passenger rails

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — A Central Florida congressman is calling for an investigation into the potential for a HAZMAT disaster along a rail line that runs through Brevard County.

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It comes after 9 Investigates highlighted concerns from those living along the line. Residents are worried about dangerous chemicals being carried on the same tracks as high-speed passenger service.

The tracks carrying Florida East Coast Railway Freight are the same that will soon see high-speed Brightline trains carrying passengers.

Susan Mehiel and other members of the Florida Alliance for Safe Trains have been concerned about the rail line for years.

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“We understand, as a lot of people say, the train has left the station. Well, it has, but there are still a lot of problems and we still need to make it safe before it has a devastating effect on our communities,” she said.

Florida East Coast’s trains carry chemicals including liquified propane gas, chlorine, anhydrous ammonia and liquified natural gas.

Now, Florida Congressman Bill Posey has called for a federal investigation into the very same thing.

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In a letter sent to the acting administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Posey noted that the “chances of an accident involving a Florida East Coast Freight Train carrying hazardous materials ... are likely to be significant.”

He highlights, as 9 Investigates did, that “This is the only segment of railway in the United States where hazard material cargos share track traveling in excess of 79 miles per hour ... stating these conditions compound the risks of a hazardous material accident.”

Posey pointed out the need for increased maintenance and modernization to offset wear and tear and meet emerging dangers.

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“Taxpayers are going to have to continue to pay taxes in order to make these trains safe, which is a sad thing because we were told in the beginning it’s a private operation. we own the tracks, and we’re doing this,” Mehiel said.

This isn’t the first time Posey has raised concerns about high-speed trains and hazardous materials.

So far, the feds have not said if there will be additional steps or oversight.


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Karla Ray

Karla Ray, WFTV.com

Karla Ray anchors Eyewitness News This Morning on Saturday and Sundays, and is an investigative reporter for the 9 Investigates unit.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.

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