US issues final rule on toxic rail cargo security

13 November 2008 21:56  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--US security officials issued new rules on Thursday for rail movement of hazardous chemical cargoes, requiring railroads to reply within five minutes to a federal query on location of any railcar carrying toxic materials.

 

The regulations, which will come into force by mid-December, also provide strict and detailed procedures that apply to chemical manufacturers, rail carriers and those receiving shipments regarding the chain of custody and monitoring of toxic cargoes.

 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued final rules designed to provide greater deterrent and protection against a possible terrorist attack involving high-volume cargoes of toxic chemicals that are in daily transit along the nation’s 140,000 miles (225,000 km) of railroad track.

 

Under requirements issued by the department’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA), railroads and those facilities that ship or receive specific hazardous materials must have a rail security coordinator who would be available to respond to DHS or TSA inquiries and receive security alerts on a round-the-clock basis.

 

Presumably, railroad operators along with chemical shippers and their customers would have to have multiple employees available to fill the rail security coordinator position at all hours and on every day of the year.

 

Railroads, shippers and receivers moving or handling highly toxic cargoes - identified by DHS as poisonous by inhalation (PIH) substances, including anhydrous ammonia - must immediately report incidents, potential threats and significant security concerns to the administration.

 

Those entities covered by the new rules must provide immediate facility access for administration or department inspectors so they can review security measures, copy records, perform tests or carry out other activities.

 

Railroads, shippers and receivers must provide to the administration, in most cases within five minutes of notification, detailed information about the exact location and status of railcar carrying PIH cargoes.

 

In addition, railroads, shippers and receivers of hazardous cargoes must maintain a strict chain of custody for those shipments, including documentary or electronic records of receipt of each railcar and its condition and provide on-site monitoring of such rail cargoes until they are handed off to the next company.

 

The complete regulations are available at the TSA website.

 

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By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653



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