Reports to Congress

Forward Through the 90s: Selected Issues in the Transportation by Rail of Hazardous Materials

  • 01
  • Sep
  • 1994
SUBJECT: Hazardous Materials
KEYWORDS: Hazardous Materials Release, Train Accidents, In-Train Placement
ABSTRACT: Railroads play a major role in meeting the American economy's need to transport large volumes of hazardous materials economically and safely. More than 1.4 million carloads of hazardous materials traverse the railroad network each year, frequently traveling great distances between many different sets of origin and destination points. Although railroads cany these goods with an excellent safety record, even a single hazardous materials release has the potential to damage the environment, endanger thousands of people, or even shut down a city. Because of the risks involved, continuously improving the safety of hazardous materials movement is a key transportation policy objective. The Strategic Plan for the Department of Transportation, announced by Secretary Federico Pena early in 1994, reflects the Clinton Administration's commitment to improving transportation safety and protecting Americans from the harmful release of hazardous materials. Goal 4 of the Plan recognizes the need to "minimize the dangers to communities and industry associated with the transportation of goods." To meet this goal, the Department will "significantly improve the safety of transporting hazardous materials on our air, water, surface, and pipeline transportation network." Within the Department, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) promotes safe, environmentally sound, successful railroad transportation, and FRA and its employees are dedicated to this task, and to improving the railroads' already admirable safety record.