The article on shipping hazardous materials is very interesting but offers no solution to a very serious problem (C&EN, Dec. 19, 2005, page 38). Any solution will require compromise, and the basis for a compromise may be found in the requirements of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the Packaging & Transportation of Radioactive Material (Title 10, Part 71 of the Code of Federal Regulations) and the requirements of the Department of Transportation (Title 49, Parts 170-189) that would have to be adapted.
The adaptations might involve changes in package design after consideration of accident scenarios, advanced notification of shipments, escorts, and other conditions appropriate to the hazards under consideration. A great deal of effort will be required to make the changes, not all of which can be made instantaneously. But changes can be made that will have the effect of taking into account the concerns of all of the parties involved, the public, the chemical industry, the railroads, and our government, and that will decrease the risks associated with the transportation of hazardous materials.