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UP asks STB to examine common carrier obligation to quote chlorine-move rates


The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has instituted a proceeding per a petition filed by Union Pacific Railroad seeking a declaratory order on the extent of the common carrier obligation to quote rates for new, lengthy chlorine moves.

A customer recently requested that UP quote common carriage rates to move chlorine about 1,900 miles on average from Utah to destinations in or near Houston and Dallas, and Allemania and Plaquemine, La. The Class I declined to quote rates because the risk of potential exposure from long distance shipments of chlorine — a toxic-inhalation-hazard (TIH) — is “unnecessary where all four of these destinations are located less than 300 miles from ample alternate chlorine supplies,” according to the petition.

UP also asserts that the chlorine would travel through high-threat urban areas, and other governmental agencies have requested that the railroad find ways to reduce TIH shipments to reduce transportation risks.

The STB is accepting comments on the proceeding from interested parties until March 31. UP's rebuttal and replies to comments are due by April 20.

Under their common carrier obligation, railroads are required by federal law to carry hazardous materials, including TIH chemicals.

During a recent satellite radio interview with The Environment Report, Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger said railroads wouldn’t transport the chemicals if they were not required by law to do so because of huge liability issues associated with moving TIH materials. The AAR favors the development and use of safer alternatives to TIH, and suggests that chemical companies pay more to insure against haz-mat accidents.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/11/2009