Governor Dayton Discusses New Railway Regulations

Created: 08/19/2014 6:59 PM
By: Brianna Long

(ABC 6 News) -- Safety, environment and the ability to respond to a disaster. Those are just some of the concerns surrounding the increased amount of train traffic in some local communities.

The concerns were heard Tuesday by Governor Dayton and other state leaders. They're touring the state, and meting with local officials in some of the towns that are most affected by oil trains coming through from North Dakota.

One of the biggest problems people in Red Wing have is the number of trains carrying oil that are coming through. It used to be a couple of trains a week, now it's a couple a day.

"What do we want to accomplish?" Governor Mark Dayton asked during Tuesday's meeting.

That was one of the biggest questions at Tuesday's meeting in Red Wing, surrounding oil transportation via railroad.

"It's really about the volume and the volatility and the risk factors," said Governor Dayton.

Risk factors that include environmental concerns if there's a spill, as well as potential public safety problems.

"Like Prairie Island, where trains block off the only entrance and exit to and from the island, that's a very very serious problem," said Governor Dayton.

About fifty people came to listen in on the discussion between the governor, and local officials including John Meyer. He's from the Rochester area and says, while the oil trains themselves may not go through Rochester, the impact from them can be felt all across Southeast Minnesota.

"It emphasizes the point that all issues are local if something happens. Clearly, if any kind of safety measures are put in place, should be put in place system-wide because it could happen anywhere on that system," said Meyer.

And if something does happen, would local firefighters and police be prepared for it? That's another worry; whether some of the smaller communities are trained for such a catastrophe.

"We'll have to be very aggressive," said Governor Dayton.

There are still a few meetings to go and once they're all finished, all the concerns will go back to the capitol where state leaders will decide who will fix the problems and how they'll do it.

Photo: ABC 6 News