Two Missoula City Councilors were permitted to meet with representatives from Montana Rail Link on Friday over safety concerns after numerous derailments and accidents involving the railroad.

Ward Two's Jordan Hess said his constituents were concerned about the potential impact of oil transport cars derailing in the middle of Missoula.

"I made some comments in December on the heels of a derailment in the MRL yard about some particular tanker cars," Hess said. "Particularly, the DOT-111 cars that had been involved in some accidents around the country and in Canada. My concern has always been and continues to be about these outmoded DOT-111 cars."

Hess and another city councilor, Ward One's Bryan Von Lossberg, met with MRL's Public Information Officer Jim Lewis and other company officials on Friday to express their concerns.

Hess said he has no unrealistic expectations stemming from the meeting.

"I'm not so naive to think that the Missoula City Council can directly impact federal policy, and other regulations through the Federal Railroad Administration" he said. "However, I think it's very important that we have a dialogue locally, and that we raise those concerns locally. After all, that's how federal policy is ultimately made."

Montana Rail Link experienced a serious derailment on July 3 that sent six Boeing fuselages tumbling down an embankment, with some ending up in the Clark Fork River. A report released in November ruled out human error in the derailment.

Two cars collided near Bonner on November 13 that sent two employees to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries and knocked out power to many homes and businesses in the area.The investigation into that collision is ongoing.

In addition, a December 16 incident resulted in 30 tank cars being derailed in the MRL yards, however no injuries or spills were reported.


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