A bill introduced by Senator Joseph Bidden (Dem.-Delaware) seeks to stop movement of dangerous chemicals through what he calls “high threat corridors.” The Senator’s office explains that the Hazardous Materials Vulnerability Reduction Act of 2005, would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a comprehensive, risk-based strategy for handling the transport of the most dangerous chemicals by rail and to have the Department determine just which chemicals should be so classified.
There are four key provisions within the proposed legislation:
1. Re-routing extremely hazardous materials around high threat corridors.
2. Developing protocols to provide notice to local officials of types and quantities of chemicals being shipped.
3, Research and develop initiatives to study security measures related to the rail and tankers – such as physical barriers, force protection levels, passive containment technologies and use of smaller, safer tankers.
4. Authorization of $100 million to provide training for emergency services personnel and rail workers who handle hazardous materials.
Aware of the opposition that grew against the proposed D.C. ban, Senator Biden says, “Re-routing is the best way to eliminate the threat of a terrorist attack on chemical cars, and because we are only requiring re-routing for less than 5% of all hazardous materials shipped by rail, it doesn’t seem to me to be too much to ask. The rail industry will argue that re-routing increases risk because it may increase the time that the chemicals are in transit. I can accept this argument if we are talking about accidents; however, in a high threat city, like Washington, DC, we are talking about intentional attacks.”