The Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today issued an extension of the comment period referencing an already approved and in-force Information Collection requirement affecting rail carriers and shippers by rail of certain hazardous materials. Passenger carrying rail operations are also affected. Under Docket TSA-2006-26514, the TSA extended for sixty days (until October 17th) the comment period on the requested renewal of the Information Collection requirement which among other things mandates that railroad and shipper “Security Coordinators” report to the Federal Government:
- Significant security concerns
- Location and shipping information for certain hazardous materials
- Chain of Custody and Control requirements for the transfer of said hazardous materials.
The hazardous materials under discussion are those listed in US 49 CFR 1580.100(b); essentially, high explosives (Classes 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3), inhalation hazards (Classes 2.3 and 6.1) in Zone A and B, and radioactives (Class 7) that require highway route control. All of these are then further specified by certain quantity limits.
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This requirement, an outgrowth of the government’s efforts to improve infrastructure and transport security following the 9/11 attacks, is clouded by its imprecise nature—in effect, this requires private entities (vice legislatively constituted law enforcement agencies) like for-profit corporations to make what amount to subjective decisions about what constitutes threatening behaviors and/or security concerns. On occasion this has led to friction with the public as said corporations, in an effort to comply with such government mandates, are perceived to or actually do overstep their limits of authority (which generally rest only within their own properties, although railroads do have federally sworn police officers on their staffs as well) and thus create the potential for unwarranted (and in this case, the adjective is used intentionally) government scrutiny of individuals who have done nothing to warrant it. Shippers and carriers affected by this request may wish to consider how it impacts their operations and liability, not to mention the public perception of their corporate image—all valid reason to input comment, if desired. Additionally, the government estimates that a considerable amount of time—over 45,000 man hours—will be spent by corporations being responsive to this requirement—a cost burden that is not trivial.
Here is a link to the notice:
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