7061 East Pleasant Valley Road, Independence, Ohio 44131 • (216) 241-2630 / Fax: (216) 241-6516

Membership
Benefits
News and Issues
Departments
Information
Secretary-Treasurer
Merchandise
Communications
FELA
Events
Links
User Info

Homeland Security backs hazmat signs

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

WASHINGTON -- The Homeland Security Department on Thursday recommended keeping warning signs on rail cars that carry hazardous materials despite concerns that such placards could turn those trains into terror targets.

Firefighters and other emergency first responders vigorously oppose eliminating placards that alert them to take precautions during train derailments and other hazmat situations. The Homeland Security and Transportation departments began weighing the change after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Announcing the decision at a National Fire and Emergency Services dinner, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff acknowledged the risk of ``whether by identifying hazardous material, we are giving people a target, or a bulls-eye.''

But, Chertoff said, ``when you go out and you confront an emergency and a hazard, you have to know what it is you are facing. You have to know if you've got a chemical problem. You've got to know if there's some kind of explosive problem. And you need to have the kind of warning that those placards give you.''

Chertoff's announcement effectively ends the debate over scrapping diamond-shaped rail placards that are often identified by a skull and bones symbol for poisons, or a number corresponding to a specific toxic chemical.

Transportation Department spokesman Brian Turmail said the joint decision to keep the placards marks ``the right combination that addresses security and safety in the transport of hazardous materials.''

``It's the right move to protect first responders and to ensure the safe movement of the materials that fuel the American economy,'' Turmail said.

Lawmakers have pointed to recent train accidents -- including a chlorine gas leak in South Carolina and a Utah spill -- in arguing for the placards. Nine people were killed and hundreds injured as a result of the South Carolina leak in January, while 6,000 people were evacuated in Utah after a brew of acids leaked from the corroded sides of a railroad tank car.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who wrote Chertoff last month to protest the proposal, said dropping the placards would put entire communities at risk.

``It made no sense to play blind man's bluff with a tank car that might be filled with hazardous materials,'' Schumer said Thursday.

Friday, April 8, 2005

Like us on Facebook at
Facebook.com/BLETNational

Sign up for BLET News Flash Alerts

© 1997-2019 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen

 


Decertification Helpline
(216) 694-0240

Sign up for BLET
News Flash Alerts

DAILY HEADLINES

AAR: Rail traffic down again for week ending August 17, 2019
David Koch, anti-union billionaire, dies at age 79
Canada, U.S. expand preclearance agreement to include cargo
Bakken oil pipeline flows hit six-month high as rail to East Coast drops
BNSF works to derail Oklahoma’s new law to prevent blocked crossings
Gov. Murphy orders NJ Transit to release monthly rail performance metrics
STB moves to rehab outdated Uniform Rail Costing System
Short Line association tells DOT, “we’re important, too”
Amtrak Cascades route to get $38 million for new rail cars
Rail, infrastructure gains give Canadian grain shippers reason for optimism
RRB Q&A: Unemployment and sickness benefits for railroad employees
Get the latest labor news from the Teamsters

More Headlines