Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Oral Arguments in Canexus v BNSF Set for Thursday

Last week the Surface Transportation Board set a time for this Thursday for oral arguments in the dispute between Canexus and BNSF about the rail transportation of chlorine gas from a Canexus facility in North Vancouver, BC to Kansas City, MO.

In their decision on oral arguments the STB made provisions to cancel those proceedings if the three parties to the dispute (Canexus, BNSF, and UP) agreed to Board supervised mediation in the dispute as requested by BNSF. In a filing submitted to the Board yesterday, Canexus declined to participate in such mediation, noting that this was not, in their opinion, a dispute about interline locations, but a failure of BNSF to provide requested delivery services.

It will be interesting to see if UP uses their 20 minutes to pursue their recommendations to the Board that the STB use this case as a basis to begin establishing a comprehensive policy for the transportation of TIH chemicals. One of the more controversial components of the policy that UP suggests should be included would be distance threshold for TIH shipments. UP suggests that any request for a TIH rail shipment of more than 1000 miles would have to be submitted to the STB to justify that the shipment “is in the public interest and cannot be avoided through a less risky or less expensive alternative” (page 7 of UP reply to STB’s initial order).

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