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

Chicago warned of cargo hazards

(The following article by Gary Washburn was posted on the Chicago Tribune website on June 28.)

CHICAGO -- An environmental activist told aldermen Monday that a terrorist act on a single rail car carrying chlorine near downtown Chicago could wreck havoc on the city, creating a toxic cloud from which thousands of people could not hide or flee fast enough to escape harm.

Tank cars are not built to withstand an explosive charge, and "we are offering targets to terrorists that are easily accessible," said Fred Millar, who noted that graffiti by vandals illustrates how cars can be reached by people unauthorized to be near them.

Millar, a consultant to Friends of the Earth, urged passage of a measure co-sponsored by Ald. Ed Smith (28th) and Ald. James Balcer (11th) that would force rail cars and trucks carrying dangerous chemicals to bypass a "municipal exclusion zone" stretching 2.2 miles from the Loop.

Failure to reroute would be tantamount to "prepositioning weapons of mass destruction," Millar said.

But Michael Payette of the Union Pacific Railroad, contended at a joint meeting of the City Council's Health and Transportation Committees that reroutes could produce greater dangers because of the increased risk of accidents as trains operate longer distances and on routes not designed to handle the traffic.

"Optimal routes are better in terms of safety, security and efficiency," Payette said.

Millar was a consultant to the Washington, D.C., City Council, which has passed a ban on shipments similar to the one proposed for Chicago. The prohibition is being challenged in federal court and is not enforced.

The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security oppose the Washington ban as does the Department of Transportation, which asserted in a brief filed as part of the case that risk "is minimized by permitting railroads to carry such cargo on routes where time in transit will be minimized." Local bans "shift the risk to others" and "clog the transportation system," the department said.

Smith held the proposal in committee for investigation.

"My concern is that we do everything we possibly can do to make sure we have executed our responsibility," Smith said. If the industry can demonstrate it has taken measures "to protect us and that we are not in imminent danger and that they can secure those cars, then we probably would not go further," he said. If not, Smith said he would push for a vote on the measure.

Tuesday, June 28, 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

Kansas City Southern reports Q3 2019 results
AAR: Rail traffic down again for week ending October 12, 2019
U.S. rail volumes still falling
UP sees workforce down by about 4,200 employees this year
Trade war hurts UPís profit; Railroad plans to cut more jobs, reduce spending
UP Q3 coal transportation volumes fall 17% on year
Tentative UAW-GM deal calls for raises, ratification bonus, Lordstown closure, pathway for temps
Amtrakís disappearing dining cars
Illini and Saluki Amtrak routes among worst-performing in U.S., report says
Virginia is planning an east-west passenger rail route connecting Blue Ridge Mountains to the beach
RRB Q&A: Railroad Retirement annuities and pensions from work not covered by Railroad Retirement or Social Security
Get the latest labor news from the Teamsters

More Headlines