Last week saw another chlorine shipper filing a complaint with the Surface Transportation Board. This time it was the Canadian chlorine producer Canexus Chemicals asking the STB to order BNSF to establish common carrier rates for shipping chlorine from its production facilities in Vancouver, BC and Marshall, WA to an interchange point in Kansas City, MO for further transport via UP.
According to the complaint filed on May 25th, BNSF has told Canexus that it will only interchange the chlorine shipments with UP at interchange points in Portland and Spokane, WA. A closer reading of the communications between Canexus and BNSF included in the complaint show that the situation is probably more complex than that outlined in the Canexus description.
It looks like this is going to end up being a discussion about who is responsible for routing decisions on complex TIH shipping routes. It appears that in this instance that there are multiple routes from the Canexus locations to their customers in the Southeast United States, routes that require shipment via at least two separate railroads. It appears that UP, via contract negotiations, has gained effective control of the routing decisions for this set of shipments, minimizing its exposure to the liability associated with chlorine shipments.