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EPA Agreement with Amtrak Brings Greater Drinking Water Protections for Riders

Release Date: 04/26/2012
Contact Information: David Sternberg, 215-814-5548 sternberg.david@epa.gov

(PHILADELPHIA – April 26, 2012) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has entered into an agreement with the National Railroad Passenger Corp. (Amtrak) to ensure safe and reliable drinking water for the railroad’s passengers and crews. To better protect the riding public from illnesses caused by microbiological contamination, the agreement requires Amtrak to monitor all the drinking water systems on its railcars and provide enhanced maintenance for its water systems.

“This agreement is a significant step forward in assuring safe water supplies for the more than 25 million people in the U.S. who travel by rail each year,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “Rail passengers deserve to feel confident that the water we drink on the train is safe.”

The consent order requires Amtrak to provide multi-level drinking water protection for all of its train operations throughout the US, including those where it provides contract services. These protections include: enhanced monitoring for pathogens including e. coli; proper disinfection and system flushing; corrective action and notification when necessary; timely follow-up monitoring; preventive maintenance, and, reporting and record keeping. In the past, Amtrak only sampled its railcars’ drinking water systems on a random basis.

This agreement will assure that Amtrak provides the protections set forth in the Safe Drinking Water Act for public water systems to riders of Amtrak’s fleet of approximately 1,500 railcars. According to Amtrak, over 78,000 passengers ride more than 300 Amtrak trains per day.

A copy of the consent order will be available after 4 p.m. today at this site: http://www.epa.gov/reg3wapd/index.htm.