TSA introduces new rail security rules; BLET calls them 'inadequate'

Proposed railroad security rules issued by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in December ignore necessary employee training and lack whistleblower protections for employees - major reasons why the BLET has called the new rules inadequate.

"Training and whistle-blower protections are among our most wanted components of any rail security legislation or rule," said BLET National President Don Hahs. "Unfortunately, both are missing from the proposed rulemaking. The BLET will once again raise these issues in our comments on the proposed rule and they will, hopefully, be included in the final rulemaking."

The TSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning rail security in the Federal Register on Dec. 21, 2006. The DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration also proposed a companion rule covering hazardous materials security.

In the TSA's proposed rulemaking, is no mandate concerning the training, much less the qualification, of those workers who will be required to carry out the requirements of the proposed rule. Second, no whistleblower provisions are included to protect workers who report security breaches to the authorities.

"These two rulemakings are a first step in making our railroads safer and more secure," Hahs said. "But they are simply that - a first step. Many more issues must be addressed before the railroads are truly safe and secure."

The proposed TSA rule will cover - among others - all commuter, freight, and passenger railroads. Each carrier will be required to appoint a Rail Security Coordinator, and report certain incidents, potential threats, and significant security concerns to TSA on a timely basis. Moreover, railroads must allow TSA and DHS officials working with TSA to enter and conduct inspections, tests, and other duties to carry out TSA's statutory responsibilities, including the copying of records.

The PHMSA rule would require carriers that carry certain quantities of specified hazardous materials to compile routing data for those commodities, and perform a risk-based analysis of the primary and an alternative route for these shipments. The carriers also would be required to conduct an annual review and utilize the practicable route posing the least overall safety and security risk.

Absent a specific waiver from PHMSA, states, local governments and Indian tribes would be prohibited from restricting routing of these shipments. Carriers also would be required to develop and implement a safety and security plan that minimizes storage time and delays in transit for these commodities, and would be required to conduct a security inspection of each car accepted for transportation for the following:

Currently, rail carriers and shippers lack positive chain of custody and control procedures for rail cars as they move through the transportation system (e.g., as entities load the rail cars at originating facilities, as carriers transport the cars over the tracks, and as entities unload the cars at receiving facilities). This can present a significant vulnerability. Whenever entities stop rail cars in transit and interchange them without appropriate security measures, their practices can create security vulnerabilities. Freight trains transporting hazardous materials are of even more concern, because an attack on those trains (e.g., through the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) could result in the release of hazardous materials.




© 2007 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen