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Justice Department intervenes on behalf of CSX

(The Associated Press circulated the following article on April 21.)

Washington -- The Justice Department filed arguments Thursday in support of a bid by CSX Transportation Inc. to overturn the District of Columbia's law against hazardous rail shipments in the city.

The U.S. Court of Appeals is hearing an appeal by CSX after a lower court ruled in the city's favor.

The Justice Department argued that the law would seriously disrupt the flow of hazardous materials that are vital to public health, the national economy and national security. The law could do that, and it also could spur other similar local laws that would create more such problems, the Justice Department argued.

Lawyers for the district and CSX were to file arguments by Friday.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams signed the law in February, citing studies that show a terrorist attack on a rail car containing chlorine could kill up to 100,000 people. Both CSX and the federal government contend that they have security plans in place, but they were confidential and could not be revealed to city officials.

CSX argued that rerouting trains west from Richmond, Va., through Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York would add days of transit time. The rail company also questioned whether a local government - rather than the federal government - had the right to regulate rail traffic.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan rejected the CSX case on April 18, but a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals issued an injunction preventing the city from enforcing the law until the appeals court could rule on the case.

Friday, April 22, 2005

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