Rail Regulations to Strengthen Security

Freight and passenger rail carriers are to be required to designate security coordinators and to report significant security concerns to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). These requirements are contained in the Rail Security final rule announced by US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff and posted in the Federal Register.

In addition to reporting requirements, the final rule also codifies TSA’s wide inspection authority. In cooperation with the US Department of Transportation, TSA has developed security actions to reduce risks associated with transportation of Poisonous by Inhalation (PIH) materials. DHS explains that while PIH materials represent less than one percent of all rail hazardous shipments, they are potentially harmful and include chemicals like chlorine and anhydrous ammonia.

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In reflecting on the issuing of the final rules, Secretary Chertoff, says, “By striking a sensible balance of security guidelines with certain regulatory requirements, we’re enabling the rail and chemical industries to be stronger partners. The results are sound security measures without excessively burdening owners and operators.”

In addition to the appointment of coordinators and reporting requirements, the final rule gives TSA authority for establishing a secure chain of custody involving shippers needing to physically inspect rail cars containing security sensitive materials prior to shipment; then freight railroad carriers must establish positive and secure handoff for the material at origin, delivery and interchange.

Further, the rule requires carriers, shippers and receivers of certain rail hazardous materials, at the request of TSA, to, “report the location of individual rail cars containing security-sensitive materials cars within minutes, and the locations of all cars containing security-sensitive materials within 30 minutes.”

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