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Ohio train derailment sparks new concerns over CP-KCS merger

Several QCA cities have already accepted agreements from Canadian Pacific not to oppose the merger, despite environmental concerns.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Molly Newell’s company, EnviroNET, is located along Highway 61 in Davenport. It has waterfront views of the Mississippi River, as well as a front row seat to a symphony of car horns.

“My colleagues and techs working in the front office need to have a headset in their ear to keep focusing, so that’s a problem,” Newell said.

She said when she first moved into the building in 2009, noise wasn’t really an issue, but since the city lifted the tracks several years ago, the sound has become more noticeable.

But now she’s focused on a bigger concern that’s growing. A possible merger between two multinational railroad companies: Canadian Pacific Railroad and Kansas City Southern.

Newell said the distance between his office and the train tracks is less than 50 feet. He said he hears the trains go by at least five times a day. But if the merger goes through, that number is expected to triple.

“They will run longer trains [and] they will run more frequent trains. The train tracks: their infrastructure here is not made to take that kind of load. It’s going to turn into a horrible situation.”

And the Feb. 3 train derailment in eastern Palestine, Ohio, which spilled hazardous materials, only served to help her strengthen her stance against the merger.

“We have concerns,” Newell said. “We are concerned about the environment, safety and the health of injured people [and] that had to be evacuated. We have concerns for first responders [and] We are concerned about lingering airborne vapors from vinyl chloride.”

He said the risk of a derailment near the Quad Cities and anything contaminating the Mississippi River is too great and urges Canadian Pacific to spend the money to reevaluate its plan.

“Essentially put the tracks somewhere else. I realize it’s expensive, but it’s a lot less expensive than messing with our environment,” Newell said.

In a statement to News 8, a Canadian Pacific Railroad spokesman said:

“We constantly strive to make the transportation of hazardous materials and other cargo as safe as possible by meeting or exceeding applicable regulations and industry standards, investing in our network infrastructure, implementing advanced technologies to promote safety, and working with our customers to continuously improve the safety of their tank cars.CP has led the industry with the lowest train accident frequency rate in North America for 17 consecutive years, demonstrating the effectiveness of our efforts to improve public safety and protect the ‘environment.

The merger is currently awaiting federal regulatory approval.

The city of Davenport has already accepted a $10 million offer from Canadian Pacific by agreeing not to oppose the merger. He will receive the money if the merger goes through.

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