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12/18/2006



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Proposed federal rule would require railroads to determine safest, securest hazardous materials route



The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) recently proposed a rule that would require railroads to perform a safety and security risk analysis to determine the optimal route for moving hazardous materials, including explosives, radioactive substances and other toxic chemicals.

Railroads would need to compile annual data on route segments, and the total number and type of hazardous materials moved on each route. Roads then would use the information to analyze each route’s safety and security risks. In addition, the rule would require shippers to securely store hazardous materials en route and ensure a railroad informs the final receiver within a specified time period that a haz-mat car has been delivered.

“We want to leave nothing to chance when it comes to the safety and security of the communities that are close to railroad tracks,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters in a prepared statement.

The FRA and PHMSA are accepting public comments on their notice of proposed rulemaking until Feb. 20, 2007. The agencies developed the rule in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which also has issued its own proposed rulemaking that addresses haz-mat security via rail.

TSA's rule would require railroads to establish security protocols for transferring toxic inhalation hazard (TIH) materials-carrying cars in "high threat" urban areas and appoint a rail security coordinator to share information with the federal government. The TSA would create a tracking system to determine the location of TIH-carrying cars and have the authority ot impose fines up to $10,000 per security violation per day.

However, securing rail haz-mat shipments will continue to require “active involvement and close cooperation” among all logistics-chain players, including shippers, private tank-car owners and chemical users, said Association of American Railroads president and Chief Executive Officer Ed Hamberger, adding that the association hadn’t yet reviewed the proposed rulemaking.

“Unlike other industries, railroads are required by the federal government to carry hazardous materials,” he said. “We have worked closely with the DHS, TSA, FRA and Congress to take concrete steps to bolster security along our nation’s railroads, including increased security of information systems, increased inspections of cars, and a … 24/7 operations center that links railroads with the appropriate national intelligence agencies for tracking, information sharing and analysis.”


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