NACD wants railroad
May 2, 2008 11:24 AM
The National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) has filed written testimony with the Surface Transportation Board urging the federal government to maintain the common carrier obligation of the railroads, according to NACD information.
NACD said if the railroads were relieved of the common carrier obligation and transportation of toxic inhalation materials were shifted to truck, extensive delays because of worsening highway congestion could occur. NACD also voiced concern about the increased opportunity for loading and unloading incidents and increased prices for products up and down the supply chain to the consumer level because of high fuel costs.
NACD said that because the railroads enjoy monopolies in many service areas, the common carrier obligation is the only recourse that shippers have to ensure that they are able to receive rail service in order to efficiently transport their products.
The NACD testimony follows a rule that will require railroads to route every train carrying the most toxic and dangerous hazardous materials on the safest and most secure route. The rule applies to trains hauling poison inhalation hazard (PIH) commodities, such as chlorine and anhydrous ammonia, which are heavily used in farming, water purification, and manufacturing.
Beginning June 1, the rule requires railroads to conduct a comprehensive safety and security risk analysis of its primary route and any practicable alternative routes over which it has authority to operate. The analysis must consider information provided by local communities and a minimum of 27 risk factors like trip length, volume, and type of hazmat being moved, existing safety measures along the route, and population density. Railroads must implement their routing decisions based on these analyses by September 2009, according to DOT.
At the same time, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is holding four public meetings to discuss a proposal to improve the crashworthiness of railroad tank cars that haul poison inhalation hazardous materials.
The meetings are scheduled May 14, 15, 28, and 29, 2008, at the Washington Plaza Hotel, 10 Thomas Circle NW, Washington DC. PHMSA is proposing enhanced tank car performance standards for head and shell impacts; operational restrictions for trains hauling tank cars containing poison inhalation hazmat; interim operational restrictions for trains hauling tank cars containing those materials, but not meeting the enhanced performance standards; and an allowance to increase the gross weight of tank cars that meet the enhanced tank-head and shell puncture-resistance requirements.
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