Union Pacific, Dow Cite Major Rail Safety Gains
Union Pacific Railroad and Dow Chemical Company say they are making good progress toward achieving eight goals set in March 2007 when they signed a Memorandum of Agreement to improve safety and security of chemicals shipped by rail. Their April 14 progress report, "On Track to Increase Rail Safety and Security," lists progress the two have accomplished with partner organizations thus far in reducing tonne-miles of highly hazardous materials, educate emergency responders nationwide with a Hazmat Safety Train, design and test a safer hazmat tank car, eliminate non-accidental releases, deploy Positive Train Control technology, improve accident prevention, and reduce dwell time -- the hours that toxic inhalation hazard (TIH) chemical cars are held in high-threat urban areas.
The report cites gains by other railroads, as well, including an Interoperability Standards Agreement reached in October by UP, Norfolk Southern, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, and CSX that will allow Positive Train Control, a predictive collision avoidance technology, to work efficiently. The report says UP is on track to achieve the goal of a 50 percent reduction in hazmat rail train accidents by 2015 and to date has cut its accidents by 26 percent since 2006. Dow has installed GPS sensors on its TIH rail cars to provide 24/7 visibility of their location and condition, and the chemical company is working with the American Chemistry Council's CHEMTREC and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to conduct separate demonstration projects to show how GPS tracking can enhance emergency response capabilities for accidents and security threats, the report says.
Dow and UP received the TRANSCAER National Achievement Award -- TRANSCAER, Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response, is a national voluntary program to prepare communities in the event of hazmat transportation incidents -- for the Hazmat Safety Train, a six-car developed by Dow, Union Tank Car Company, and the Fire Fighters Education and Training Foundation; the train visited 28 cities in 2007-08 and was used to train some 2,000 responders, appearing at regional hazmat safety conferences in California, Texas, and Louisiana, according to the report.
"Union Pacific and Dow are major contributors to the chemical supply chain that is critical to our nation's economy, and also to homeland security, public health, safety, and welfare," said Jim Young, Omaha, Neb.-based UP's chairman and CEO. "Our priority is making sure that these products arrive by the safest, most environmentally friendly mode of freight transportation so that almost everything in our daily lives -- the water we drink, the plastics bottles that carry it, our computers, cars, clothes, and medicines -- has the chemicals needed to make it all possible."
"Dow and Union Pacific are as committed as ever to our shared vision of ensuring the safe and secure transportation of essential products and materials through each community we touch," said David Kepler, executive vice president of Midland, Mich.-based Dow's Business Services. "We outlined some very aggressive goals, and we are extremely pleased to announce that by the end of 2008, we have achieved progress in every one of the eight goal areas we set in 2007."