The American Chemistry Council told the Senate Commerce Committee its members support the proposed Rail Safety Act and outlined the organization’s railroad safety agenda.
ACC supports a multi-layered approach to hauling hazardous materials by rail, which includes a range of measures, President Chris Jahn informed the committee.
This includes reducing derailments and other accidents; minimizing the risk a rail accident will result in the release of hazardous materials; and strengthening emergency response and mitigating the impacts of any railroad hazmat incident that does occur in the future.
Jahn noted that shippers have made significant investments in recent years to upgrade their fleets and are currently working toward a mandated replacement of tank cars used to transport Class 3 flammable liquids by 2029. ACC supports an earlier phaseout deadline for these cars based on the rail equipment industry’s tank car manufacturing and retrofit capacity.
ACC also encourages the development of federal standards for the placement and operation of railcar defect detecting equipment. These should be risk- and performance-based, and allow for continued technological advancement, Jahn said.
The council supports expanding the types of hazmat shipments that must be reported in advance to state agencies. It also backs increasing registration fees paid by hazmat shippers and carriers in order to fully-fund federal grant programs designed to assist emergency response planning and training.
“It is critical that emergency responders have the information, training, and resources they need to respond to a rail incident, particularly one involving hazardous materials,” Jahn stressed.