Hazardous crude oil cargo on trains – no information sharing with towns on routes

An article in the New York Times (April 15,2014) titled “Despite Rise in Spills, Hazardous Cargo Rides Rails in Secret”, describes laws that permit railroads to keep their hazardous cargo secret from towns where spills occur. With increasing amounts of Bakken crude being transported by rail, and the tendency of this crude to be volatile, towns close to railroads face risks but were unaware of the magnitude of the risks. The railroads claim that their secrecy if for security reasons. The Federal government has a list of 27 risk factors (include the number of rail crossings and sports stadium proximity) to be considered for each route, with a less risky route to be considered by railroads. A Federally funded Rail Corridor Risk Management System is offered to railroads to use in making these decisions. Should railroads be required to share data regarding shipments of hazardous cargo so that towns are prepared for emergencies ? Should the possible higher cost associated with shipments by less risky routes be borne by the railroad or should more risky routes be associated with insurance requirements to cover possible spills if they occur ? What role can the railroad industry play to mitigate these risks ?

About aviyer2010

Professor
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