WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined members of the Virginia, Maryland and District Congressional delegations for a briefing by National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) on the Jan. 12 smoke incident at L'Enfant Plaza, which killed one passenger and hospitalized several dozen others.
Senator Warner released this statement following today's briefing:
"We got some answers today, but a lot of questions remain. We understand that the NTSB is still investigating the incident, and Metro officials feel constrained about what they can publicly reveal before that investigation is completed.
I pressed the NTSB officials and WMATA executives to provide us with some reassurances that Virginians using Metro tonight and tomorrow can feel safe that problems already revealed about the circumstances of the fatal Jan. 12th incident are being addressed immediately.
I did not get an answer about why it took anywhere from 25 to 35 minutes for power going to the third rail to be shut-off so first responders could evacuate sick passengers.
We did learn about interoperability issues with radio communications between Metro and DC Fire and EMS tied to a DC radio upgrade that was not shared with Metro authorities. That is unacceptable, and I want some assurances that Metro has tested its radio communications with other local first responders across the region.
We were told that the Jan. 12th incident has resulted in a Metro-wide change in how the system uses exhaust fans and ventilation systems in tunnels and aboard individual train cars.
These are positive steps, but I still want answers about evacuation and training protocols.
Those of us who serve the people of this region will stay on top of the NTSB and WMATA until we get clear answers about what happened on Jan. 12th, what equipment and procedures broke down, and how we can work together as elected representatives for residents of the National Capitol Region to make public transit as safe and reliable as possible."