Coalition urges Union Pacific to reroute trains carrying hazmat cargo near Olympics site
Feb 1, 2002 12:00 PM
The Coalition for a Safe Olympics has called on Union Pacific Railroad to reroute its trains carrying hazardous material around Salt Lake City UT during the Olympics in February.
Consisting of Utah state elected officials, the Teamsters, other unions, and environmental and railroad safety groups, the coalition said Union Pacific thus far has refused to halt, reroute, or even curtail its hazmat shipments during the Olympics. Union Pacific's refusal to reroute hazardous shipments stands in contrast to all other hazmat transporters in the region, all of whom have agreed to limit or restrict their shipment of hazardous cargo. Even the Salt Lake City International Airport will halt all traffic during opening galas of the Olympics. Union Pacific trains run within blocks of major Olympic events.
Since the Sept 11, 2001, attack on the United States, security concerns at the Olympics have drawn international attention. With more than 70,000 visitors and 3,700 athletes and officials from 80 nations scheduled to visit Salt Lake City, the coalition called on Union Pacific to address the threat posed on its rail system whether by accident or terrorist intent. According to a study by RailWatch, a safety watchdog group, a train accident happens every 90 minutes. Every two weeks, a train accident occurs involving the release of hazardous materials that results in evacuation of the surrounding area.
In 2000, Union Pacific accounted for 40% of the Federal Railroad Administration's top 10 fines involving hazardous waste inspections for violations including improper shipping papers and inadequate hazmat documentation.
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