Issue Date: July 13, 2009
Shippers Sue Over Railroad Liability
Chemical shippers are asking the U.S. district court in Utah to block an effort by Union Pacific Railroad to shift the financial risk to shippers if an accident occurs while chlorine or another highly toxic chemical is in transit. Concerned about potential liability, Union Pacific has published new tariff rules that require the shippers of toxic-inhalation-hazard chemicals to pay for any damages if an accident causes a spill. The Chlorine Institute and the American Chemistry Council have filed a lawsuit that asks the district court to set aside the liability provision in Union Pacific's revised terms of service. "If you ship under that tariff or in a contract that incorporates the provisions of that tariff, you will be indemnifying the railroad for its negligence," says attorney Paul M. Donovan, who is representing the chemical industry. Union Pacific recently made an unsuccessful bid to be relieved of its obligation under federal law to haul chlorine (C&EN, June 22, page 28).
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