Friday, January 23, 2009

CSX RSSM Security Efforts

Two weeks ago I did a posting on a letter that CSX was sending to its customers about their implementation of the recently finalized Rail Security Rule. At the same time that I posted that blog I sent an email to the address provided in the letter asking for some additional information about their efforts. Yesterday I received a very polite and informative reply from Mike Lunsford, Director - Chemical Safety CSXT, addressing some of the issues that were briefly mentioned in their letter. CSXT Progress He reported that during January they are planning on doing field evaluations of each of the more than sixty interchanges that they share with other rail lines. They need to determine which interchanges are going to be ‘attended’ when a Rail Security Sensitive Material shipment arrives to be transferred to that line. They also need to work out the exchange procedures with the other rail line to ensure that those procedures comply with the new § 1580.107. He specifically notes in his email that: “Should any issues be discovered during those evaluations that may impact CSXT shippers or receivers, the company will communicate its findings with the specific companies impacted.” He also points out something that should be obvious to anyone that has implemented government regulations in a complex operational environment; it is not possible to have a single policy or procedure cover every situation. He does state that: “CSXT personnel are currently working to find a solution for each unique situation.” Hazmat Routing vs Rail Security I made the point in my earlier blog that a railroad could use internal rules like those issued by the CSX letter to avoid re-routing RSSM shipments around urban areas; not out of any desire to route through that area, but rather to avoid the loss of revenue associated with turning the shipment over to another rail carrier. There is nothing in Mike Lunsford’s email indicating that CSX intends to do this, but it is certainly a reasonable (from a profit motive perspective) action for a railroad to take. This exemplifies an additional problem that regulators will have in trying to get railroads to use interchange agreements to route RSSM shipments around High Threat Urban Areas (HTUAs). Railroad may legitimately use the § 1580.107 procedures to avoid re-routing these types of shipments. It is a clear example of a regulatory requirement of one agency having a negative affect on a regulatory requirement of another agency. It is true that PHMSA and TSA have different regulatory responsibility. The problem in this case is that there is significant overlap between the requirements of safety and security. The hazmat rail routing rule (PHMSA) was written primarily as a safety regulation with security effects. The railroad security rules (TSA) have safety implications. While there is a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between these two agencies, there is obviously a lack of coordination of efforts. Until such time as these two agencies actually coordinate their respective programs we can expect to see similar conflicts between safety and security regulations.

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