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BNSF penalized for not reporting hazmat spills on time


Washington state regulators will penalize BNSF Railway Co. $71,700 for failing to report in a timely manner multiple hazardous material spills along state highways.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) on Monday approved a settlement agreement negotiated between commission staff and BNSF. The agreement requires that BNSF pay the financial penalty for failing to report releases of hazmat materials, including crude oil, to state regulators within a required period of time, UTC officials said in a press release.

The agreement also requires the parties to file a document that describes what constitutes a reportable event; what constitutes "hazardous material;" and the best practices that BNSF will implement going forward to stay in compliance with these reporting requirements, officials said.

BNSF is required to pay the full $71,700 penalty within 10 days. The parties have five days to accept the order or reject it and proceed with adjudication.

State rail safety rules require railroads report the release of hazmat material to the Washington State Emergency Operations Center's (EOC) 24-hour duty officer within 30 minutes of learning of the incident. When a railroad fails to notify the EOC that an incident has occurred, critical response responses may not be deployed, causing potential harm to the public and the environment, UTC officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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