Regarding the editorial of April 22, “Rail safety requires local effort ,” we appreciate that people are becoming aware of railroad safety as a concern for 59 Maine communities that see cars, potentially carrying crude oil, travel toward and from New Brunswick. Transport ceased through Maine because local authorities in Lac-Megantic prohibited crude shipments through their downtown. They may not have had the legal authority to do that, but who would challenge them after what they went through? If the tracks get rerouted around town, oil could ride the new route, then back through Maine to New Brunswick.

It’s not that the tank cars are old, although some are. They were never built to be crash-worthy in the first place. Nobody foresaw mile-long unit trains snaking all over. It is time to update specifications and reinforce the existing fleet or utilize buffer cars to interrupt a string of explosions at the very least. Electronic trip manifests could help firefighters know quickly what they face, thus how wide an area to evacuate.

If we claimed that nuclear reactors were 99 percent safe, would you relax? If we played Russian roulette with one bullet in a hundred chambers, would you call the game safe? Ask victims’ families in Lac-Megantic. As we understand it, the law prohibits railroads from refusing to carry a load. They support safety improvements and, given the amount of insurance in place against the cost of possible loss, they should.

Given the current state of congressional paralysis, federal regulatory agencies are trying to negotiate improvements willingly. Let’s give them credit for that and hope they succeed. Your local fire department, while making what preparations it can, ought to be a long way from the action that prevents them from ever getting the call.

Peter Nielsen, presidentMaine Municipal AssociationOakland town manager

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