NACD hails ruling affirming
railroad’s hazmat obligation
Jun 17, 2009 3:13 PM
In response to the recent decision by the Surface Transportation Board (STB) that the Union Pacific Railroad Company (UP) has an obligation to provide rates and service to US Magnesium LLC (USM) of Utah to transport chlorine to destinations in Louisiana and Texas, the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) issued this statement:
“NACD is pleased that the STB has reaffirmed the railroads’ common carrier obligation to transport hazardous materials, including toxic inhalation hazards (TIH). In its February 18 petition for declaratory order, UP asked the STB to determine the extent of its common carrier obligation to transport TIH over a long distance through High Threat Urban Areas (HTUAs) when chlorine supplies are available closer to the destination.
Had the STB granted UP’s requested exception, the entire common carrier obligation to transport TIH would have been threatened. The common carrier obligation exists for the specific purpose of requiring railroads to provide service to shippers when they would otherwise choose not to do so because it would be unprofitable or inconvenient. Given the monopolies major railroads enjoy in many areas, the common carrier obligation is the only recourse that shippers have to ensure they are able to receive the rail service they need to safely and efficiently transport their products, particularly hazardous materials.
NACD is also pleased that in the decision, the STB specifically recognized the appropriate role of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to regulate TIH rail shipments in the areas of safety and security. UP had argued that TSA and DOT has required them to reduce safety and security risks when transporting TIH materials and that carrying chlorine over a long distance through HTUAs would be contrary to these efforts. Both TSA and DOT filed comments in response to UP’s petition that described the agencies’ strong regulatory programs regarding the safe and secure transport of TIH. NACD commends the STB for recognizing these agencies’ programs.”
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