Railroad firm restricts shipments of chlorine, ammonia − US suit

14 April 2014 19:16 Source:ICIS News

Railroad firm restricts shipments of chlorine, ammonia, lawsuitHOUSTON (ICIS)--Several trade groups and chemical companies have sued Canadian Pacific Railway, alleging that it has adopted policies that unfairly restrict railcar shipments of ammonia, chlorine and sulphur dioxide, according to a US lawsuit.

The company's policies take effect on Monday, the plaintiffs alleged.

Chlorine producers rely heavily on rail shipments, as more than 20% of North American production relies on it, according to the Chlorine Institute, one of the groups suing the railroad company.

Increasingly, railroad companies have changed how they treat shipments of chlorine following two fatal releases in 2004 and 2005, the institute said in legal documents. They have attempted to shift liability to shippers and to impose what the trade group called unreasonable terms of services.

Under the new policies of Canadian Pacific, it has adopted its own specifications for rail tank cars containing these materials, known as toxic-by-inhalation (TIH) commodities, the lawsuit said. If the tank cars containing these products do not meet the company's specifications, then Canadian Pacific will refuse to allow the cars to travel over its lines.

The plaintiffs allege that the Secretary of Transportation has the sole right of determining the specifications of rail tank cars carrying these products.

They requested that the court issue a preliminary injunction that would prevent Canadian Pacific from adopting the policies. This injunction would remain in effect until a decision has been reached on the case.

Canadian Pacific said it had no comments about the specifics of the case. However, it does oppose the motion for the preliminary injunction, "based on our railroad's continual concern over safety in our communities", the company said in a statement.

"CP believes there is a shared responsibility to haul these commodities throughout North America in the safest possible manner and our railroad is asking shippers of these toxic chemicals to take steps to further protect our employees and the public."

The groups suing Canadian Pacific include the Chlorine Institute, the American Chemistry Council (ACC), The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), ERCO Worldwide and PVS Chemicals.

ERCO is a division of the Canadian company Superior Plus. It makes sodium chlorate and chlor alkalis.

PVS Chemicals is a US company that makes water-treatment chemicals. It ships sulphur dioxide out of a Canadian plant owned by its supplier, Teck Metals.

The groups filed the lawsuit in US District Court, Minnesota District.

The case number is 14-cv-01029.

By Al Greenwood