The Chlorine Institute filed comments today affirming its strong support for efforts by several of its members to restore liability fairness to rail transportation of chlorine and other chemicals by Canadian Pacific (CP).
At issue is CP’s attempt to shift liability to the shippers, including chemical producers, for all consequences of accidents involving chlorine and other toxic inhalation hazard and poison inhalation hazard (TIH and PIH) chemicals regardless of the cause of the accident. This attempt at stealth self-indemnification was imposed without negotiation or input from chemical producers and shippers. In their complaint filed with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), TIH/PIH shippers argue the CP action violates Canada’s rail liability regulations.
Chlorine Institute President Frank Reiner explained that North American railroads have a common carrier obligation to ship properly packaged and handled hazardous materials, including chemicals. TIH and PIH chemicals are often essential for public health, manufacturing, agriculture, communications and national security, so they must be transported to where they are needed.
“Shipping these materials by rail is remarkably safe,” Mr. Reiner noted. “There have only been three major TIH accidents since 2001, and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board found these to be the result of errors by rail carriers, not shippers.” However, “By shifting their liability to shippers, the railroads hope to either force TIH and PIH materials into other means of transportation, or, force shippers to pay for all damages even if they are not at fault,” Mr. Reiner said.
As the battle for fair and open access to rail transportation shifts north of the border to Canada, “The Chlorine Institute wants its members and its transportation partners to know that it will continue to support efforts to maintain the ability to safely and economically ship these essential chemicals,” Mr. Reiner concluded.
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