Corzine announces new hazmat legislation

On April 13, 2005, Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ) introduced his long-promised Extremely Hazardous Materials Rail Transportation Act of 2005 (S773).

The bill is the companion to the legislation that was introduced on the House side by Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) on March 17 entitled the "Extremely Hazardous Materials Transportation Security Act of 2005" (HR1414).

The Corzine bill is similar to the Markey one in many respects, however the Corzine bill is more harmful, according to the Truckload Carriers Association.

It expressly states that his bill will have no preemptive effect (and for the regulations it will promulgate). Furthermore, it specifically includes radioactive waste, which the Markey bill didn't, and in addition the language in the bill "wants to know whether individuals who transport, load, unload, etc, are adequately trained or prepared to respond to incidents involving terrorism."

As for the Markey bill, if enacted it would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue regulations imposing additional security requirements for shipments of extremely hazardous materials.

The language in the bill defines extremely HM as materials that are "toxic by inhalation," "extremely flammable," "highly explosive," and any other materials designated by the Secretary of DHS as extremely hazardous.

The bill has also re-introduced calls on the Secretary of DHS to promulgate regulations which would require:

•Pre-notification of federal, state and local law enforcement when an extremely HM is transported near an area of concern (ie, an area that is designated by the Secretary as posing a particular interest to terrorists);
•A determination by the Secretary of DHS as to whether transportation could be made by alternate route at a lower security risk, except where the origination or destination is located within the area of concern;
•Use of currently available technologies and systems to ensure immediate communication between transporters and all entities charged with responding to acts of terrorism;
•Physical security measures (eg, passive secondary containment of tanker valves, additional security personnel, surveillance technologies and barriers);
•Creation of terrorism response plans for shipments of extremely hazardous materials;
•Additional comprehensive training for individuals that transport extremely hazardous materials;
•Civil penalties of up to $100,000 and administrative penalties of up to $1,000,000 for violation of a regulation issued under this act;
•The enactment of whistleblower protections for personnel who report security or safety problems.

If a bill ultimately passes, federal officials would be required to issue regulations for public comment within 180 days.

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