Railroads join environmental groups, security experts on hazards of toxic cargo – Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Railroad companies, after hearing dire warnings for years about the dangers of transporting chlorine and other toxic cargos, are uniting with environmental groups and homeland security experts in trying to lessen the hazards.

Acknowledging the “remote but deadly risks” associated with some shipments, the companies asked federal regulators this year for the right to reject requests to move hazardous materials over long distances and through highly populated areas such as Fort Worth.

Their request was denied, and locally owned railroad Union Pacific took matters into its own hands and created a tariff requiring the shipper — not the railroad — to be liable in case of any accident, prompting chlorine industry officials to fight the tariff in court and ultimately win a reprieve.

But concern about a possible accident or attack on rail cars shipping toxic chlorine gas — which, if released, could cause permanent lung damage or death — remains high, especially in North Texas, which receives more rail shipments of chlorine than anywhere else in the country.