Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rail Security Hearing

Yesterday the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing looking at the “Next Steps for Securing Rail and Transit”. Like last week’s hearing before the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Senators questioned the disparity between TSA funding for air and rail security operations. Once again, there was little mention of or consideration for freight rail security operations.
The written testimony from TSA Administrator Pistole for this hearing (not surprisingly, identical to last week’s written testimony) does not mention freight rail security or TSA’s much delayed regulations for railroad security training. Similarly the prepared testimony from Commissioner Boynton from Connecticut’s Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security failed completely to discuss either of these two issues.

The testimony from Dr. Flynn, President of the Center for National Policy, also focused on passenger rail security to the exclusion of freight rail issues. He did, however, take TSA to task for their failure to complete the security training regulations mandated by Congress. He notes that “most local jurisdictions have been hesitant to pursue their own [training] effort until direction arrives from Washington” (page 6). No one wants to spend money on developing a training program only to find out that it doesn’t meet the requirements of later federal regulations.

Oh well, I suppose we need to accept that the limited number casualties resulting from an attack on passenger rail like those seen in Madrid and London far outweighs the potential threat of the result of an attack on a single chlorine or anhydrous ammonia rail car.

BTW: I did finally get around to listening to the web cast of last week’s rail security hearing. Beyond listening to Administrator Pistole whine about how hard it is to write regulations and getting them through the Administration’s internal review process, there was nothing of interest to the chemical security community in the hearing.

Oh yes, Administrator Pistole wants an abbreviated regulatory process for homeland security regulations. I’m not sure what he wants shortened since TSA hasn’t even published an advance notice of proposed rule making yet. Perhaps he needs to send his administrative people over to talk to NPPD who published the CFATS regulations (much more complicated than training regulations) well within the congressionally mandated time limit.

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