Issue Date: December 15, 2008
Hazmat Routing Rule Has Industry Support
The Department of Transportation has issued a final rule requiring railroads to seek the safest and most secure route for transporting chlorine, anhydrous ammonia, and other extremely hazardous materials. The regulation requires freight carriers to analyze a minimum of 27 risk factors that may affect the possibility of a catastrophic release along a specific route, assess alternative routing options, and select the most appropriate pathway by March 31, 2010. Activists contend that cities should have the right to ban or restrict the transport of hazardous materials within their limits. Friends of the Earth consultant Fred Millar says the rule is flawed because “railroads can continue requiring customers to use their longest routes, even through major cities.” But the chemical industry, which ships about 170 million tons of products by rail each year, argues that a hodgepodge of differing state and local laws would disrupt commerce. “When it comes to routing, it has always been our belief that you need to address this issue at the federal level,” says Scott Jensen, a spokesman for the American Chemistry Council, which represents major chemical producers.
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