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The Investigators: Potentially explosive trains rolling through New York, New Jersey neighborhoods

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Jim Hoffer reports on a potentially deadly danger in New York and New Jersey (WABC)

They are mile-long trains filled with explosive crude oil that the government says are unsafe, yet more and more of them are rolling through neighborhoods in New York and New Jersey.

In an exclusive investigation in which the Eyewitness News Investigators tracked the movements of these trains, we've determined that several times a day, they pass right by dozens of schools filled with students.

In some towns, they are called bomb trains: tanker cars filled with millions of gallons of crude oil.

"If you live in community near rail lines, I guarantee you, you know about bomb trains," said Paul Gallay, president of the environmental group RiverKeeper.

Ten months ago in North Dakota, a fireball from a crude oil train derailment forced the town of 1,400 to evacuate. Then, last April, there were more evacuations in Lynchburg, Virginia, after a CSX oil train derailed there.

Last year, a derailment in a small Canadian town killed 47 people, the devastation made worse because the old rail cars are prone to rupture in a crash.

Just months ago, the federal government told rail shippers they have two years to phase out these older tankers. RiverKeeper thinks the ban should be immediate.

"You have to have better rail cars, and soon," Gallay said. "And until you do, you shouldn't be putting communities at risk."

In the last two years, there's been a 400 percent increase in crude oil trains rolling down along the Hudson River and into New Jersey. Our investigation has found that along a 60-mile stretch of the rail line from Newburgh to Newark, there are at least 55 schools located within 1,500 feet of the tracks.

Every day, three to four trains filled with millions of gallons of crude from the mid-west roll by these schools.

"It's totally unacceptable," mom Sarah McTasney said.

McTasney, of West Nyack, worries that for at least the next two years, these tanker cars that the government says are defective will continue rolling by near her daughter's school.

"It's putting our communities at risk," she said. "And when talking about schools, you're talking about high concentrations of children."

A spokesman for CSX Railroad says they've put in place numerous safety measures, including increased track inspections, lowering the speeds of some of their trains and installing monitors to detect track defects. The spokesman adds that CSX does not own the railcars but are responsible for moving them safely. And as for safety, our investigation found one school along the CSX rail line that stood out more than the rest.

At West Point Military Academy, long lines of tanker cars filled with highly flammable crude go right under the campus through a tunnel below one of the academy's main buildings.

"We have evidence from al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups specifically looking at rail targets," rail security expert Fred Millar said.

CSX says it has worked closely with first-responders in both New York and New Jersey and has advocated for higher design standards for cars.

Here is the list of all the schools located within 1,500 feet of CSX rail line from Newburgh to Newark.

Hawkins Street Elementary- Newark, NJ - 1300 ft
Ethical Community Charter School- Jersey City- 600 ft
Elementary School 2 - Jersey City - 1500 ft
St. Anne's School - Jersey City - 1500 ft
North Bergen Vocational School - North Bergen, NJ - 500 ft
McKinley School - North Bergen, NJ - 800 ft
St. Brigid's School - North Bergen, NJ - 1100 ft
Franklin Elementary School - North Bergen, NJ -1100 ft
Robert Fulton School - North Bergen, NJ - 1100 ft
Franklin Elementary School #3 - North Bergen, NJ - 1500 ft
High Tech High School - North Bergen, NJ - 1000 ft
Grant Elementary - Ridgefield Park,NJ - 1400 ft
Han Al High School - Ridgefield Park, NJ - 1400 ft
Lincoln Elementary - Ridgefield Park, NJ - 1300 ft
E Roy Rixby Elementary - Bogota, NJ - 1400 ft
Trinity Lutheran School - Bogota, NJ - 1000 ft
St. Joseph School - Bogota, NJ - 1300 ft
Bogart Memorial School - Bogota, NJ - 400 ft
Bogota Jr. Sr. High - Bogota, NJ - 1200 ft
Teaneck Community Charter School - Teaneck, NJ - 130 ft
Teaneck High School - Teaneck, NJ - 1200 ft
Benjamin Franklin M.S. - Teaneck, NJ - 1200 ft
Yeshiva Gedolah - Teaneck, NJ - 100 ft
Torah Academy - Teaneck, NJ - 250 ft
Ma'ayanot Yeshiva H.S. - Teaneck, NJ - 150 ft
Roy W. Brown M.S. - Bergenfield, NJ - 300 ft
Yeshivat He'Atid - Bergenfield, NJ - 600 ft
Franklin Elementary School - Bergenfield, NJ - 1300 ft
Transfiguration Academy - Bergenfield, NJ - 800 ft
Dumont High School - Dumont, NJ - 500 ft
Newbury Academy - Dumont, NJ - 900 ft
Bergen Center for Child Development - Haworth, NJ - 900 ft
Haworth Public School - Haworth, NJ - 900 ft
Harrington Park Public School - Harrington Park, NJ- 1400 ft
The Goddard School - Norwood, NJ - 100 ft
Thomas Jefferson Elementary - Northvale, NJ - 300 ft

Dominican College - Orangeburg, NY - 200 ft
Tappan high School - Orangeburg, NY - 1100 ft
St. Dominic's School - Blauvelt, NY - 1100 ft
St. Catherine's School - Orangeburg, NY - 1000 ft
Cottage Lane Elementary - Blauvelt, NY - 1300 ft
St. Paul's School - Valley Cottage, NY - 200 ft
Congers Elementary School - Congers, NY - 200 ft
Haverstraw M.S. - Haverstraw, NY - 1300 ft
Gerald F. Neary Elementary - Haverstraw, NY - 1000 ft
North Rockland Control School District - West Haverstraw, NY - 1300 ft
West Haverstraw Elementary - West Haverstraw, NY - 800 ft
West Point Military Academy - Highland Falls, NY - 0 ft
Cornwall on Hudson Elementary - Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY - 1300 ft
Cornwall Central School District - Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY - 1200 ft
Liberty Street School - Newburgh, NY - 1200 ft
St. Patrick's - Newburgh, NY - 900 ft
Grand Street Public School - Newburgh, NY - 1000 ft
Newburgh Jabemacle Elementary School - Newburgh, NY - 1200 ft
Mount St. Mary College - Newburgh, NY - 1500 ft.
Related Topics:
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