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FRA haz-mat advisory: Railroads, chemical shippers need to speed up, keep tabs on tank cars


The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has a message for railroads and chemical companies that move hazardous materials: It’s time to improve procedures for tracking haz-mat cars.

Yesterday, the administration issued a safety advisory asking railroads to conform to a recently updated rail industry standard that requires roads to notify the FRA if a tank car doesn't move for 20 days and 30 days. The FRA also recommends railroads ensure all employees are aware of the standard and speed haz-mat moves.

In addition, the advisory suggests haz-mat shippers and end users closely monitor their products in transit, and communicate with one each other and railroads to ensure all parties are aware of a car’s location and delivery date.

"Anyone involved in shipping hazardous materials must take the necessary steps to ensure that time-sensitive products are properly tracked from origin to final destination," said FRA Administrator Joseph Boardman in a prepared statement. "There is no margin for error when it comes to shipping hazardous materials."

The FRA issued the advisory because of an Aug. 28 haz-mat incident in Cincinnati. A tank car carrying 20,000 gallons of styrene, which sat idle for seven months at RailAmerica Inc. subsidiary Indiana & Ohio Railway’s yard, experienced a chemical reaction that released hazardous gases. The FRA is investigating the incident.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/6/2005