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5/3/2005



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Senate, House bills propose stricter tank-car safety, haz-mat security measures



The transportation of hazardous materials via rail is gaining more attention in Washington, D.C., than the city’s proposed 90-day ban. Last month, U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) introduced the Extremely Hazardous Material Rail Transport Safety Act of 2005 (S. 773), which proposes stricter tank-car safety and haz-mat security measures.

The legislation would create an “extremely hazardous material” category to identify materials that, when released, could lead to fatalities; establish new safety standards for pressurized tank cars’ physical condition; allow regions to create "area of concern communities" where haz-mat transportation through or near a certain area poses a specific risk to the public; establish basic training requirements for general safety, emergency preparedness and terrorism response for first responders, law enforcement and individuals involved in haz-mat shipping; and institute civil penalties for violations of rail security regulations and whistleblower protections for employees who report violations.

“Efforts to secure chemical and nuclear facilities are inadequate if we don’t secure the trains that transport these materials through American towns and cities,” said Corzine in a prepared statement. “Our nation’s freight-rail infrastructure remains vulnerable to the release of hazardous materials either by accident or due to deliberate attack.”

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. In March, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) introduced similar legislation (H.R. 1414) in the House. That bill was referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Railroads.


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