CHICAGO – When derailed freight train cars carrying ethanol burst into flames just 50 miles from her Chicago suburb, killing a motorist who tried to flee, Barrington (Ill.) Mayor Karen Darch saw her worst fears realized.
“This is exactly the kind of thing we’ve been afraid of,” said Darch, who tried but failed to stop a railroad sale that will boost freight traffic through her village. “Any community could find themselves in that situation.”
The derailment earlier this month highlights the struggle to prevent such disasters along the 140,000-mile U.S. rail network. The pressure is on to tackle outstanding safety issues with hazardous-cargo shipments expected to soar in coming years. Fears that terrorists might view chemical-laden tankers as ea