STB to Hold Hazardous Materials Hearing

WASHINGTON — The Surface Transportation Board will hold a public hearing next month to discuss “issues related to the common carrier obligation of railroads—the duty of railroads to provide transportation or service on reasonable request—with respect to the transportation of hazardous materials.”

The hearing follows one held in April on the general topic of the common carrier obligation of railroads. The July 16 hearing “will provide a forum for a more detailed discussion of issues specifically pertaining to the railroads’ common
carrier obligation regarding the movement of toxic by inhalation hazards and other hazardous materials,” the STB said in a statement.

In April, the Federal Railroad Administration announced that railroads will be required to route every train carrying the most toxic and dangerous hazardous materials on the safest and most secure route.

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. In addition, the rule includes several rail security provisions designed to guard against tampering with the rail hazmat car during transportation.

— News Wire