The public has a right to know about safety threats

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The public needs to support the Post-Gazette’s efforts to obtain railroad reports concerning the shipments of volatile crude oil through Pittsburgh (“Secrecy by Rail: PEMA Says the Public Has No Right to Oil Train Info,” July 8). The newspaper’s concern should be extended beyond Bakken crude to the increased shipments of toxic fluids associated with hydraulic fracturing and the transportation of well waste-water through the city.

Living on the backside of Mount Washington across Saw Mill Run from Brashear High School, I have become increasingly anxious about the major increase in heavy tanker traffic on the Wheeling & Lake Erie line. The W&LE crosses the entire state of Ohio and interconnects with the Norfolk Southern, CSX and the Canadian National. A spill along Saw Mill Run could contaminate the Ohio River and create dangerous toxic release into the air inside a densely populated and heavily traveled valley.

It is outrageous that Gov. Tom Corbett’s Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency puts the “confidential and proprietary” interests of corporations above the health and safety of the public. Mayor Bill Peduto needs to become more vigilant on this issue. Recent state and local court decisions, especially the eloquent decision by Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca in Washington County, have strongly affirmed the public’s right to know about potential threats to public health and safety. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision on municipal rights concerning shale gas drilling also means that every level of government is bound by the Pennsylvania Constitution’s assertion of a public responsibility for the health and safety of the citizenry.

Mount Washington

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