Washington, DC- Representative Edward Markey (D-MA), a senior Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, today expressed outrage over the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) announcement that it was issuing voluntary security guidelines for companies that transport the most hazardous chemicals on the nation’s railroads. Rep. Markey is the author of legislation that would require the Department of Homeland Security to impose additional security requirements for shipments of extremely hazardous materials, including re-routing of such shipments around areas that raise particular security concerns whenever possible. The legislation was recently adopted as an amendment to H.R. 4439, a bill to reorganize the Transportation Security Administration, during a Homeland Security Subcommittee markup.
“Today’s announcement is an early April Fool’s joke,” said Rep. Markey, “this Administration says, ‘we have new security guidelines – April Fools!’ Unfortunately, this joke of a proposal has deadly serious consequences for the security of toxic chemicals transported across our nation’s rail network. The Bush Administration motto continues to be ‘In Industry We Trust,’ and today’s notice is the latest example of the Bush Administration letting companies decide just what security precautions should be taken. This Administration is doing nothing more than asking industry to do us a favor and please protect the public -- this is an abdication of its responsibility to the American people.”
Each day hundreds of thousands of shipments of extremely hazardous materials travel through densely populated areas and near critical infrastructure such as bridges and power plants. Enough chlorine to kill 100,000 people in half an hour is routinely contained in a single rail tanker car that rolls right through crowded urban centers without adequate security protection. In 2003, an Ohio-based Al Qaeda operative was arrested for plotting to collapse a bridge in New York City or derail a train in DC. He has since pled guilty. Last year, an accidental crash of a train containing chlorine in South Carolina killed 9 people and caused hospitalizations and widespread evacuations.
While the security guidelines issued by the Bush Administration today note that “these materials have the potential of causing significant numbers of fatalities and injuries if intentionally released in an urban environment,” the document also states that “All measures are voluntary.”
“My amendment to increase the security associated with these shipments is being actively opposed by corporate special interests, companies who don’t want to have to pay for the security precautions needed to ensure the public will be safe from a toxic terrorist attack,” said Rep. Markey. “It is unfortunate that the Bush Administration is catering to industry’s wishes instead of protecting the public from what could be a deadly terrorist attack.”
Homeland Security Committee Democrats will be sending a letter to the Administration expressing concern over the new guidelines. For a copy of the Bush Administration security ‘suggestions,’ Rep. Markey’s legislation to improve hazardous materials transportation security and a letter from industry opposing the Markey legislation, please see www.house.gov/markey.
Copy of Administration Security "Suggestions" (32.34 KB)
Copy of Hazardous Materials Transportation Security Legislation (42.14 KB)
Copy of Letter from Industry Representatives on Markey Hazmat Bill (1.60 MB)
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