22 March 2002 21:36 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--Federal efforts to enhance the security of hazardous materials transportation are still inadequate six months after the 11 September terrorist attacks, a Senate subcommittee chairwoman charged Friday.
"Frankly, I'm concerned about the leadership we've seen so far," said Senator Patty Murray (Democrat-Washington), chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation.
"Many in the transportation industry have told me the efforts to date have been characterised by a lack of direction, a lack of urgency, and general confusion over who is in charge," Murray said at a panel hearing.
She said many of the agencies within the Department of Transportation (DoT) that are now charged with launching new security regulations are "already behind in publishing regulations to maintain transportation security."
Murray noted that of the 800 000 shipments of hazardous materials in the US each year, little information exists about the true identify and nature of some shippers and cargo.
"As I've looked at this, I've found major gaps in funding and regulations. We have a system that's designed to prevent accidents, but not designed to prevent deliberate attacks," Murray said.
Senator Richard Shelby (Republican-Alabama) said much of the federal effort to improve transportation security has focused on air travel. "We should not lose sight of the need, however, to improve security in other modes of transportation," he said.
John Magaw, administrator of DoT's transportation security administration, outlined efforts the department has undertaken over the last six months to improve transportation security.
He said DoT has issued three security advisories for hazardous materials transporters, created a hazardous materials direct action group, and is developing a hazardous materials transportation security awareness training module.
Joseph Clapp, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said his agency has met with nearly 40 000 motor carriers of hazardous materials to help them improve security.
He said the FMCSA is developing a rule that would require additional security, including routing, for "certain high consequence hazardous commodities."
Rear Admiral Paul Pluta, the US Coast Guard's assistant commandant for marine safety, told the subcommittee that emergency regulations have been issued that require ships destined for US ports to provide 96-hour advance notices of arrival. He said the regulation is expected to be made permanent by mid-year.
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