Issue Date: January 29, 2007
TSA to monitor railcars
Beginning in February, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA), part of the Department of Homeland Security, will begin collecting and analyzing data to monitor how long railroad cars carrying toxic chemicals sit idle and/or unguarded in or near 46 high-threat urban areas. The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory has determined that a terrorist attack on idle railcars poses a grave threat. According to TSA spokeswoman Amy Kudwa, the Association of American Railroads, which already collects such data, will turn over the data to a TSA contractor for analysis. The contractor has yet to be selected and the value of the contract has yet to be determined, she says. On the basis of the analysis and a cooperative agreement between TSA and more than 250 railroads reached earlier, the railroads will reduce by 25% this year the unguarded, idle time of their cars carrying hazardous shipments. These same companies will reduce idle time by an additional 25% next year. In 2005, Washington, D.C., banned rail shipments of hazardous cargo within 2.2 miles of the Capitol. CSX Transportation, which dominates key freight routes through the city, immediately sued in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which put the ban on hold. The appellate court remanded the case back to U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is now rehearing the case to determine whether the ban will ever go into effect. The case is being closely watched by other cities considering similar bans.
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