democratizing GIS
Home   Store   Free GIS   Education   Free Shapefiles   Census   Weather   Energy   Climate Change   News   Maps   TOPO   Aerial   GPS   Learn GIS

DOWNLOAD SHAPEFILES: Canada FSA Postal - Zip Code - U.S. Waterbodies & Wetlands - Geographic Names - School Districts - Indian Federal Lands
Zip Code/Demographics - U.S. Streams, Rivers & Waterways - Tornadoes - Nuclear Facilities - Dams & Risk - 2013 Toxic Release Inventory TRI

FREE MAPCRUZIN UPDATES
Enter your e-mail



GIS Shapefile Store - for Beginners & Experienced GIS Users Alike. Geographic Names Information System, Nuclear Facilities, Zip Code Boundaries, School Districts, Indian & Federal Lands, Climate Change, Tornadoes, Dams - Create digital GIS maps in minutes.

Toxic Release Inventory TRI Shapefiles

Canada FSA Postal Code Shapefile

GNIS Shapefiles 2,000,000+ Points

Nuclear Energy Facilities in the U.S.

Download Zip Code with Demographics Shapefiles

Download U.S. Streams & Rivers Shapefiles

Download Water Body & Wetland Shapefiles

Download Zip Code Boundary Shapefiles

Download School District Shapefiles

Download Indian & Federal Land Shapefiles

Download Climate Change Shapefiles

Download Tornado Shapefiles

Download Dams & Risks Shapefiles

Follow Mapcruzin.com on Twitter Follow on Twitter

A Member of the
Reimagination Network

Didn't find what you are looking for? Email me and I'll find it for you.

Progressive Links

Federation of American Scientists

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

Union of Concerned Scientists

Alternet

Reader Supported News

Common Dreams

Truthout

Huffington Post

Media Matters

Think Progress

Grist Environmental News

Have a question or comment? Post them at the MapCruzin Blog.

Climate Shift Blog

MapCruzin Consulting
GIS and Google Maps Development, Website Creation and Hosting, Fast and Affordable.

GIS Tutorials

GIS Basics

GIS Terminology

Of Interest

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Maps

Climate Shift - The effects of climate shift on the future of planet earth and its inhabitants.

Right to Know or Left to Wonder?

Hazardscapes - Toxic and Nuclear Risks in your backyard.

War & Environment

Worst Case Scenarios: Terrorism & industrial chemicals.


Subscribe for Updates


Railcar Hazmats Storage: Reducing Risks in a Time of Terrorism

Sponsors

<-- Terrorism and Industrial Chemicals

Railcar Hazmats Storage: Reducing Risks in a Time of Terrorism

by

Fred Millar, Ph.D.
fmillar@erols.com

Introduction: Chemical industry officials say that since September 11 they are vigorously revising their own risk assessments on dangerous facilities and operations that could provide attractive targets/weapons for terrorists. The railroad industry (the Association of American Railroads) is also doing so, and specifically regarding hazardous materials rail cargoes, although the AAR study will be available to the FBI, not for the public.

One issue for the AAR study is "storage in transit" of hazardous materials railcars. In Homeland Defense terms, one would "harden the target" by increasing site security and making the target less attractive – reducing the hazard. . The AAR task force staffer says we have a "new world" in Right-To-Know since September 11, meaning the pendulum can now swing way over to the secrecy side. There is no thought at AAR of any need for public accountability on risks or risk reduction or site security.

Sponsors

[Part of the historical context here is that the powerful transportation industry lobby got hazmat transportation exempted from the post-Bhopal federal Right-to-Know laws on emergency planning (1986) and disaster prevention (1990), so we know much less about serious transportation hazards than about those of fixed facilities.]

Federal transportation officials and state chemical safety officials report that chemical companies are massively escaping effective oversight, e.g., under federal EPA or OSHA regulations and/or state and local Right-to-Know and disaster prevention regulations, by making increasingly extensive use of railcars for on-site storage and process feed instead of using their own onsite fixed chemical storage containers. When railcars are hooked up to chemical plant processes for direct use, their "unloading and loading" is considered by some companies to be still part of "transportation", and thus regulated by U.S. DOT regulations (49 CFR) --- which preempt the potentially more stringent requirements (varying by jurisdiction) of local, state and federal regulations on fixed facilities.

Or the railroads can lease some track to the chemical companies and label the resulting railcar storage as "storage in transit". They the companies assert again that such storage is not subject to any regulations but the minimal federal DOT regulations, which historically have focused mainly on container safety. DOT acknowledges privately that they can certainly provide no effective oversight of thousands of loaded chemical tankcars in various storage situations. Chemical company lawyers over many years have vigorously used agency and court proceedings to assert federal preemption and to defeat attempts of local officials to impose safety regulations.

These regulation avoidance schemes occur in hundreds (or thousands) of locations – no one has tried to get an overall count, it seems. In a time of new terrorism consciousness and risk assessment recalculations, state officials warn that the "huge" problem of leased sidings result in railcars much more vulnerable to attack – they cite instances, for example, of "56 LPG cars I can show you that are allegedly in storage", sometimes in downtown railyards.

"CNN Presents" recently (December 2001) aired a one-hour documentary on "What Next?" might we expect in targets from the terrorists. In the segment on industrial chemicals, which CNN considers to be perhaps the most likely next set of targets, the Mayor of Baltimore was quoted as saying that it was very difficult to get private companies to erect security fences, etc. around their loaded railroad tankcars. CNN showed tank cars in Baltimore with graffiti on the side, clearly not kept under effective security. Baltimore City fire prevention officials assert that there are at least eight sites in the city where leased siding storage of railcars occurs, and without any serious security measures.

California law reportedly defines railcar "storage in transportation" [perhaps not the exact terminology] (vs. storage in a fixed location and therefore regulated by state and local chemical accident laws) as being on the same stretch of track no longer than 30 days, and "meter maid"-type officials sometimes actually chalk mark the cars and track in order to keep account of the length of stay. But state officials say that "the shippers only have to move the car one foot" to start the 30-day clock again for transportation-related storage.

An earlier California controversy about railcar storage reportedly occurred during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, when local officials went to court to force LPG (propane) shippers to move some 80 loaded railcars further from stadia used by the games. Chlorine tank cars used by public water and sewage plants – not as regulated for many years as private facilities were -- may be the greatest risk overall in many areas.

Aspects of the problem:

  1. The only (sort of ) "routing" rule in federal DOT rail hazmat regulation is "the 48-hour rule": railcars of hazmats must proceed expeditiously, specifically must not be left to sit longer than 48 hours. (There are no federal hazmats transportation routing rules except for high-level nuclear waste by truck.)
  2. But there is a "black hole", a regulatory loophole, into which hazmats railcars can be driven: a chemical company can lease a siding (stretch of track) from a railroad and leave hazmats railcars there indefinitely, even loading and unloading from them. These arrangements are called "leased sidings", or "storage in transit" or "storage incidental to transportation." Chemical companies claim that this situation falls under the regulation of the DOT’s hazmats regulations, in 49 Code of Federal Regulations, thus preempting state and local regulations.
  3. Such storage is usually far below the radar screen of local health and safety regulators, unless some resident strongly objects when he or she sees the same hazmat railcars parked nearby for months. A big controversy occurred many years ago in Framingham MA regarding storage for months of vinyl chloride railcars in the downtown railyard. Local officials imposed several kinds of local security mandates: fences, lights, guards, etc. but the situation was reportedly resolved only when one company went out of business.
  4. EPA has specifically exempted such storage from its Right-To-Know, chemical accident regulations on Risk Management Plans (by a 1997-98 revision of the Clean Air Act Section 112 r List Rule, at 40 CFR Section 68.130)
  5. There is also an institution called "rolling leases" -- by which chemical companies lease only the stretch of track (say, 60 feet) directly under the car, so the lease moves when the car moves. The railroad can then have maximum flexibility to move the car around at will. State officials say that the only purpose of this neat trick is to take advantage of the regulatory black hole described above.
  6. DOT’s Research and Special Programs Administration, uncomfortable with the safety implications of these low-oversight arrangements, has an ongoing (for years now) rulemaking, HM-223, to "clarify" the coverage of their regs on loading, unloading of chemical cars and "storage in transit." A somewhat simplified interpretation is that DOT wants to give up/clarify that they do not have any regulatory authority over railcars on leased sidings and only joint regulation on loading/unloading, so that state and local officials are no longer preempted and are free to bring railcar storage under Right To Know regulations, etc. This could involve imposing new fees to be paid by railroad and chemical shippers.
  7. Chemical and oil industry officials, unsurprisingly, have for years vigorously argued, in comments to the HM-223 docket, that DOT should retain authority over this storage.
  8. The Federal Rail Administration, a part of DOT, has no current information on the extent, location or risk of such storage. They report they are awaiting action by the rail industry on its terrorism study. Years ago a cursory FRA/Rail Safety Office headquarters survey of its regional offices turned up a total of 608 places where FRA could say such storage was going on. FRA says now that a two-week survey of its regional inspectors (of their files on complaints and inspections) would be necessary to turn up current information on the scope of the issue.

Action items for community groups/researchers:

  1. Contact the following for information on the extent and location of leased siding railcar storage/past releases/risk assessments/previous "flow studies" of hazmats rail transportation through your area:
    1. Regional FRA/DOT office

    2. Local Mayor, Council, media, (paid)Emergency Management Agency, (volunteer) Local Emergency Planning Committee (a long shot)
    3. State Emergency Management Agency
    4. Railroads
    5. Chemical facility managers

  2. Put together a committee of citizens and organizations who will assert their right to know what risks there are due to such storage and transportation of hazmats in general:
    1. Emergency responders – HazMat Teams, etc.
    2. Hospitals with emergency rooms who might have to handle mass casualties
    3. Schools – PTAs, administrators, teachers.
    4. Arenas, etc. which host thousands of people.

  3. Make demands on local officials for re-assessment of :
    1. what’s an "acceptable risk" for the community in a time of heightened terrorism risk consciousness.
    2. site security measures
    3. risk reduction possibilities, including re-routing of the most dangerous cargoes away from the most sensitive areas

 

Copyright © 2001, Fred Millar Ph.D.,
All Rights Reserved

<-- Terrorism and Industrial Chemicals

Didn't find what you are looking for? We've been online since 1996 and have created 1000's of pages. Search below and you may find just what you are looking for.



MapCruzin.com is an independent firm specializing in the publication of educational and research resources. We created the first U.S. based interactive toxic chemical facility maps on the internet in 1996 and we have been online ever since. Learn more about us and view some of our projects and services.

If you have data, GIS project or custom shapefile needs send me an email.

Contact Us

Report Broken Links

Subscribe for Updates

Advertise on MapCruzin

Follow on Facebook
News & Updates

Find: Maps, Shapefiles, GIS Software & More

MapCruzin Blog for updates, questions and answers

Mapcruzin Free GIS Tools, Resources, News and Maps

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Blog Updates

More Blog Updates

Downloads

Google Earth Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Maps
Lester Brown's Plan B 3.0
State GIS Shapefiles, Maps & Resources
GIS Shapefiles & Maps
GIS Programs, Tools & Resources
Free World Country & Regional Maps
GIS / GPS Careers and Job Positions
Disease Outbreak Maps
TOPO Maps
Extreme Weather & Disaster Maps
Free World Maps from the CIA Factbook
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge ANWR Maps
Oil and Gas Maps
Africanized Honey Bees
Renewable Energy Potential Maps of the United States
Terrorism Maps
War Maps
Google Maps
Weather Maps
GPS Resources
Historical Maps of the World
Google Earth
Library of Congress American Memory Map Downloads
Toxic Chemical Pollution Maps
Climate Change Maps
Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Maps
Census Shapefiles
World Maps

Issues

Environmental Justice
Data Sources
Greenwash & JunkScience
Statistical Resources
Wireless Dangers
Surviving Climate Change
Global Right-To-Know
Creating Living Economies
Books of Note
Toxic Klamath River
Federal Lands Maps
TRI Analysis
TRI Webmaps
EnviroRisk Map Network
Community-Based Research
Right-To-Know or Left to Wonder?
Chemical Industry Archives
21st Century Warfare
Biotechnology
Nanotechnology
Globalization/Democracy
National Parks and Public Lands
Trade Secrets/Toxic Deception
GIS Books
Our Projects
Other Projects
1999 Archive Environews
Environmental Books
Environmental Links
Redwood Coast Information
Recycle, Salvage, Reuse

Resources
Shapefile Store
Free GIS Software
Free Map Downloads
Free Shapefiles
Free Remote Sensing
Free Topo Maps
Free GIS Tutorial
Free GPS
ToxicRisk.com
ClimateShift.com
Maptivist.com

About MapCruzin - Cookies, Privacy, Fair Use and Disclaimer - Advertise on MapCruzin.com

Website development and hosting provided by Michael Meuser

Copyright © 1996 - 2017 Michael Meuser, All Rights Reserved
MapCruzin is a Pop-Up Free Website -- Best Viewed With ANY Browser