WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today regulations aimed at strengthening the security of the nation's freight and passenger rail systems and reducing the risk associated with the transportation of security-sensitive materials.
"By striking a sensible balance of security guidelines with certain regulatory requirements, we're enabling the rail and chemical industries to be stronger partners," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "The results are sound security measures without excessively burdening owners and operators."
The Rail Security final rule will require freight and passenger rail carriers to designate rail security coordinators and report significant security concerns to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The rule also will codify TSA's broad inspection authority. For freight rail, the rule will ensure the positive handoff of security-sensitive materials as well as establish security protocols for custody transfers of security-sensitive material rail cars between receivers of these materials that are located in high threat urban areas, shippers of these materials, and rail carriers.
To raise the level of security in the freight rail transportation sector ahead of the final rule, both TSA and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) developed security action items, along with the freight rail industry, to reduce the risk associated with the transportation of Poisonous by Inhalation (PIH) materials. These measures have resulted in an overall risk reduction of more than 60 percent, well above the target reduction of 50 percent. PIH materials are potentially harmful and include essential chemicals like chlorine and anhydrous ammonia. PIH materials represent less than one percent of all hazardous materials rail shipments.
The freight rail provisions of the rule will address the transport of security-sensitive materials by rail, from start to finish, including shipment handoffs, secure areas for transfers, and reporting of shipment locations to TSA.
The Rail Security final rule has been sent to the Federal Register for publication and is currently available at www.tsa.gov.