US tank car proposal may threaten safety - group

02 June 2008 22:01  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Proposed US safety standards for rail tank cars carrying poison inhalation (PIH) materials could actually leave the cars more vulnerable to terrorist attacks, a trade group said on Monday.

The group, the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD), filed its comments with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

One of the proposals would set a speed limit of 30 miles/hour (48km/hour) for PIH tank cars that do not meet the new performance standards and that are travelling in non-signalled territory.

“There is no guaranty that this proposal would increase safety, but it would certainly increase security risks," the trade group said in its comments.

It would be easier for terrorists to track and target a train moving at 30 miles/hour than one moving at 50 or 60 miles/hour, the NACD said.

"At a time when stringent new regulations to increase security at fixed chemical facilities are being implemented, it would be particularly risky to increase the security exposure of PIH materials on the rails," the group said.

The NACD is also concerned about an eight-year deadline for PIH tank cars to meet the new standards.

Such a tight deadline could cause companies to remove a large number of tank cars from service, the group said.

"This would exacerbate the problem of a lack of shipping capacity for these critical materials and further raise prices for the vast majority of consumer goods on top of the increases already caused by skyrocketing fuel costs,” the NACD said.

While the group expressed its concerns to the federal regulator, the NACD also said it supported increasing safety and security.

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By: Al Greenwood
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