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D.C. officials are pleased with judge's idea for compromise in rail-shipping dispute

(The Associated Press circulated the following article on April 7.)

WASHINGTON -- District of Columbia officials are pleased a judge wants to reach a compromise in a dispute over banning hazardous rail shipments through the nation's capital.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams said yesterday that he "doesn't have any problem" holding off on enforcing the ban for 30 days - as long as freight railroad CSX reroutes hazardous trains during talks.

The law was scheduled to take effect Monday. CSX sought an injunction, arguing that only the federal government had the authority to ban hazardous rail shipments.

U.S. District Judge Emmett Sullivan proposed a 30-day cooling-off period, in hopes of giving the city and CSX a chance to begin talks.

The District of Columbia Council argued that it is necessary to ban hazardous materials within 2 1/2 miles of Washington, because the city is a probable terrorist target. It further argued that the federal government did not seem to have a plan to deal with rail safety.

Councilman Phil Mendelson said the judge appears to understand the problem with CSX saying it has a plan to protect dangerous materials, while refusing to share details with the city. "The feds say they had a security plan, CSX says they have a security plan, but the locals, ... the first responders, are not privy to that," Mendelson said.

Thursday, April 7, 2005

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