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Report to Congressional Requesters:

April 2003:

Rail Safety and Security:

Some Actions Already Taken to Enhance Rail Security, but Risk-based 
Plan Needed:

GAO-03-435:

GAO Highlights:

Highlights of GAO-03-435, a report to Congressional Requesters 

Why GAO Did This Study:

In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, concerns 
have been raised that the nation’s shipments of hazardous materials by 
rail may be vulnerable to terrorist attack.  Millions of tons of 
hazardous materials are shipped yearly across the United States.  
Serious incidents involving these materials have the potential to 
cause widespread disruption or injury.  GAO was asked to examine 
recent steps taken by industry and government to improve the safety 
and security of these shipments and steps taken by local jurisdictions 
to prepare to respond to hazardous material rail incidents. 

What GAO Found:

After the response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, 
industry and government took steps to improve the safety and security 
of hazardous material rail transportation.  The railroad and chemical 
industries assessed their facilities’ exposure to attack and developed 
a security plan to address their risks.  The Department of Homeland 
Security’s Transportation Security Administration has begun to address 
nonaviation security by starting development of an overall intermodal 
transportation system security plan, but has not yet developed specific 
plans to address the security of individual surface transportation 
modes, including rail. Such a plan is needed to determine the adequacy 
of security measures already in place to protect rail shipments and 
identify security gaps.

Officials from local jurisdictions that GAO visited, as well as other 
government and private sector experts, identified several unresolved 
issues pertaining to the safety and security of transporting hazardous 
materials by rail.  These include the need for measures to better 
safeguard hazardous materials temporarily stored in rail cars while 
awaiting delivery to their ultimate destination and the advisability 
of requiring companies to notify local communities on the type and 
quantities of such materials stored or passing through their 
communities.

While no standardized tool exists to gauge local preparedness, 
officials from nine of the ten cities that GAO visited said that they 
are generally prepared to respond to hazardous materials incidents.  
By the end of 2004, the Department of Homeland Security plans to 
determine the response capabilities of the nation by developing an 
assessment tool for use by states in performing assessments of their 
local communities’ emergency response capabilities.

What GAO Recommends:

GAO recommends that the Secretary of Homeland Security work with the 
Secretary of Transportation to develop a risk-based plan to 
specifically address rail security.  The plan should establish time 
frames for actions to protect hazardous material rail shipments.  
Department of Transportation and Homeland Security officials generally 
agreed with the report and acknowledged that no plan to specifically 
address rail security has been developed, but noted that they have 
taken some actions to enhance the security of hazardous material rail 
shipments.

www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-435.

To view the full report, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact Peter F. Guerrero at 
(202) 512-2834 or guerrerop@gao.gov.

[End of section]

Letter:

Results in Brief:

Background:

Industry Has Taken Steps to Address the Security of Transportation of 
Hazardous Materials by Rail, but TSA Has Not Yet Developed and 
Implemented a Rail Security Plan:

Several Issues Regarding the Safety and Security of Hazardous Materials 
Transported by Rail Remain Unresolved:

Most Localities Visited Report They Are Generally Prepared to Respond 
to Hazardous Material Rail Incidents, but Sufficiency of Actions Taken 
Cannot Be Determined:

Conclusions:

Recommendation for Executive Action:

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation:

Appendixes:

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology:

Organizations Visited and Contacted:

Appendix II: Oversight of Rail Shipments of Hazardous Materials by the
Department of Transportation and Other Federal Agencies:

DOT and DHS Oversee Rail Safety and Security:

EPA Oversees Fixed Facilities That Handle Hazardous Materials:

OSHA Focuses on the Safety of Plant Workers and Emergency Responders:

NRC and DOE Oversee Shipments of Nuclear Material:

DOD Oversees the Safety and Security of Military Hazardous Material 
Shipments:


Appendix III: Annual Hazardous Material Rail Shipments in the United
States:

Department of Transportation Categorizes Hazardous Materials by Nine 
Classes:

Overall Volume of Rail Shipments of Hazardous Materials for Rail, 
Truck, and Water are Similar by Ton-mile:

Rail Shipments Represent a Much Higher Share of Volume for Some 
Hazardous Material Classes:

Poisonous Inhalation Hazardous Materials Were Among the Ten Most 
Commonly Shipped Hazardous Materials from 1998 to 2001:

Rail Shipments of Radioactive and Military Hazardous Materials 
Represent a Small Fraction of All Rail Shipments of Hazardous 
Materials:

Appendix IV: Safety and Security Issues Posed by Possible Future Rail
Shipments of Spent Nuclear Fuel:

Proposed Private Fuel Storage and Yucca Mountain Repository Plans Will 
Result in Substantial Increases in Rail Shipment of Radioactive 
Materials:

Historically Low Spent Nuclear Fuel Shipment Volumes Make Risk 
Assessment from Increased Shipments Difficult:

Appendix V: Emergency Response Procedures and Available Resources to
Assist Local First Responders:

General Procedures for Emergency Response:

Multiple Federal Plans and Agencies Provide Additional Resources to 
Address Hazardous Material Incidents:

Federal Agencies Provide a Variety of Assistance for Responding to and 
Improving Preparedness for Hazardous Material Rail Incidents:

Private Organizations Also Play a Role in Emergency Response to 
Hazardous Material Incidents:

Multiple Standards and Guidelines of Preparedness Exist:

Appendix VI: Letter from the Federal Railroad Administration, May 28, 
2003: 

Appendix VII: GAO Response to Federal Railroad Administration Letter: 

Tables:

Table 1: NFPA Levels of Professional Competence for First Responders to 
Hazardous Materials Incidents:

Table 2: 1997 Hazardous Materials Shipped by Tons and Ton-miles:

Table 3: Rail Shipments as Percentage of Hazardous Material Shipments by 
All Transportation Modes by Hazard Class and Division, 1997:

Table 4:  The Top 20 Hazardous Materials Shipped by Rail by Volume, 
1998-2001:

Table 5: Transport of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel, 1979-1996:

Table 6: Federal Agencies Involved in Emergency Response to Hazardous 
Material Incidents:

Table 7: Hazardous Material Emergency Response Assistance and Grants 
Provided by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Domestic 
Preparedness (Formerly a Department of Justice Program):

Table 8: Hazardous Material Emergency Response Assistance and Grants 
Provided by the Department of Transportation's Research and Special 
Programs Administration:

Table 9: Hazardous Material Emergency Response and Assistance Grants 
Provided by the Department of Homeland Security's Directorate of 
Emergency Preparedness and Response:

Table 10: Hazardous Material Emergency Response Assistance and Grants 
Provided by the Department of Health and Human Services:

Table 11: Hazardous Material Emergency Response Assistance and Grants 
Provided by the Department of Energy:

Figures:

Figure 1: Photos of Rail Facilities:

Figure 2: Components of a Risk Management Approach to Defend Against 
Terrorism:

Figure 3: Tons of Hazardous Materials Shipped by Rail, 1998-2001:

Abbreviations:

AAR: Association of American Railroads:

CFDA: Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance:

CFS: Commodity Flow Survey:

CHEMTREC: Chemical Transportation Emergency Center:

DHS: Department of Homeland Security:

DOD: Department of Defense:

DOE: Department of Energy:

DOJ: Department of Justice:

DOL: Department of Labor:

DOT: Department of Transportation:

EMAP: Emergency Management Accreditation Program:

EPA: Environmental Protection Agency:

EP&R: Emergency Preparedness and Response :

FRA: Federal Railroad Administration:

HHS: Department of Health and Human Services:

HM: hazardous materials:

LEPC: local emergency planning committee:

MTMC : Military Traffic Management Command:

NFPA: National Fire Protection Association:

NRC: Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

NTSB: National Transportation Safety Board:

ODP: Office of Domestic Preparedness:

OREIS: Operation Respond Emergency Information System:

OSHA: Occupational Safety and Health Administration:

PFS: Private Fuel Storage, LLC:

RSPA: Research and Special Programs Administration:

SNF: spent nuclear fuel:

TRANSCAER: Transportation Community Awareness Emergency Response 
Program:

TSA: Transportation Security Administration:

USCG: U.S. Coast Guard:

WMD: weapons of mass destruction:

Letter April 30, 2003:

The Honorable Henry A. Waxman 
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Government Reform
House of Representatives:

The Honorable James L. Oberstar
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
House of Representatives:

The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings
The Honorable Martin T. Meehan
House of Representatives:

In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, concerns 
have been raised that the nation's shipments of hazardous materials by 
rail may be vulnerable to terrorist attack. Millions of tons of 
hazardous materials are shipped yearly across the continental United 
States. Much of this volume is shipped on rail networks that travel 
through populated areas, increasing the concern that accidents or 
attacks during these shipments could have severe consequences. While 
the vast majority of shipments arrive safely at their destination, 
serious incidents involving these materials have the potential to cause 
widespread disruption or injury. Additionally, the proposed shipments 
of spent nuclear fuel at sites from 39 states across the country to the 
Yucca Mountain Repository have highlighted the need to safeguard 
hazardous materials against both accident and attack.[Footnote 1]

Two federal agencies have primary responsibility for overseeing the 
safety and security of hazardous materials shipped by rail--the 
Department of Transportation (DOT) and the new Department of Homeland 
Security (DHS). Though originally a part of DOT, the Transportation 
Security Administration is now part of DHS. The Transportation Security 
Administration is charged with overseeing the security of all modes of 
transportation, including rail. Within DOT, the Federal Railroad 
Administration promotes railroad safety and enforces rail safety 
regulations, while the Research and Special Programs Administration 
regulates the transportation of materials that may pose an unreasonable 
risk to health, safety, and property. Other federal agencies having 
related responsibilities for the rail shipment of hazardous materials 
include the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of Energy, 
Department of Defense (DOD), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 
Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 
and DHS' Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response. See 
appendix II for additional information on the oversight roles of DOT 
and other federal agencies in the safety and security of hazardous 
material rail shipments.

In response to your request that we review the safety and security of 
transporting hazardous materials by rail in the United States, we 
examined (1) recent steps taken by industry and government for 
improving the safety and security of hazardous materials transported by 
rail, (2) issues pertaining to the safety and security of rail 
transport of hazardous materials identified by federal and private 
sector hazardous material transportation experts and local officials as 
being unresolved, and (3) the preparedness of ten local jurisdictions 
to respond to rail incidents involving hazardous materials, whether 
accidental or intentional. To address these issues, we used a variety 
of approaches and methodologies, including interviews with regulatory 
officials, analyses of hazardous materials volume and incident data, a 
panel of experts, and interviews with local officials. To report on the 
preparedness of local jurisdictions to respond to a potential terrorist 
attack or accident involving the shipment of hazardous materials by 
rail, we performed case studies at ten jurisdictions selected because 
they varied in size and experienced a recent and significant rail 
incident involving hazardous materials or typically experienced large 
amounts of hazardous material shipments passing through their 
communities. These jurisdictions are not named due to the sensitive 
nature of the issues discussed in this report. While providing 
information on the preparedness actions taken by these specific 
localities to respond to a hazardous material rail incident, results 
from these case studies cannot be generalized to other jurisdictions. 
We conducted our review from December 2001 through March 2003 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. See 
appendix I for additional information on our scope and methodology.

Results in Brief:

In response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, industry and 
government have taken steps to improve the safety and security of the 
transportation of hazardous materials by rail. The railroad industry 
conducted an industry-wide assessment to identify and prioritize the 
exposure of rail facilities to the risk of attack and developed a 
security plan to address these risks. The security plan, completed in 
December 2001, established four alert levels and described a series of 
actions to prevent terrorist threats to railroad personnel and 
facilities that could be taken at each alert level, including rail 
operations and police actions. In March 2003, DOT's Research and 
Special Programs Administration finalized a rule, Hazardous Materials-
-Security Requirements for Offerors and Transporters of Hazardous 
Materials--which imposes new security requirements on shippers and 
carriers of certain hazardous materials. The Transportation Security 
Administration has also begun to address rail security. According to 
Transportation Security Administration officials, while much of its 
resources have been focused on aviation security, it has assumed 
responsibility for transportation security in all modes of 
transportation, including rail, and is beginning to develop an overall 
intermodal transportation system security plan, which these officials 
consider a major component of the National Strategy for Homeland 
Security. The Transportation Security Administration has signed a 
memorandum of agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration, which 
these officials said would serve as a guide for relations between the 
Transportation Security Administration and modal administrations 
within DOT, including the Federal Railroad Administration and Research 
and Special Programs Administration. However, while the Transportation 
Security Administration has begun work on an overall intermodal 
transportation system security plan, it has not yet developed specific 
plans to address the security of individual surface transportation 
modes, including rail, and does not have time frames established for 
completing such an effort. We are recommending that DHS and DOT work 
jointly to develop such a plan to assist the departments in determining 
the adequacy of security measures already in place to protect hazardous 
material rail shipments and identifying any gaps that need to be 
addressed.

Government and private sector hazardous material experts and officials 
from some local jurisdictions that we visited identified several issues 
pertaining to the safety and security of transporting hazardous 
materials by rail that have not been resolved. These issues include the 
need for measures to better safeguard hazardous materials temporarily 
stored in rail cars while awaiting delivery to their ultimate 
destination--a practice commonly called "storage-in-transit," the 
advisability of requiring companies to notify local communities of the 
type and quantities of materials stored in transit, and the appropriate 
amount of information rail companies should be required to provide 
local officials regarding hazardous material shipments passing through 
their communities. Federal Railroad Administration and Transportation 
Security Administration officials recognize that security concerns have 
grown since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks regarding the 
vulnerability of hazardous materials stored in transit in, or passing 
through, local communities. However, they are just beginning to address 
this issue.

In our review of the actions taken by the ten local communities that we 
visited to prepare and respond to hazardous material rail incidents, 
officials from nine of the ten localities told us that they believe 
that their cities are generally prepared to respond to these incidents. 
Actions taken by these communities include ensuring that emergency 
response plans are in place, employing hazardous material response 
teams, and planning and conducting training and drills. However, 
because no standardized tool currently exists to gauge preparedness, we 
were unable to determine the sufficiency of these localities' actions 
to prepare for hazardous material rail incidents. Officials from DHS' 
Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response[Footnote 2] are in 
the process of determining the response capabilities of the nation by 
developing a standardized tool for performing self-assessments of local 
communities' emergency response capabilities. They estimate that this 
effort will be completed by the end of 2004.

DHS and DOT generally agreed with our report and acknowledged that no 
plan to specifically address rail security has been developed, but 
stressed that they have taken some actions to enhance the security of 
hazardous material rail shipments.

Background:

In 2001, over 83 million tons of hazardous materials were shipped by 
rail in the United States across a 170,000-mile rail network which 
extends through every major city as well as thousands of small 
communities. Federal hazardous material transportation law defines a 
hazardous material as a substance or material that the Secretary of 
Transportation has determined 
is capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and 
property when transported in commerce.[Footnote 3] It includes 
hazardous substances such as ammonia, hazardous wastes from chemical 
manufacturing processes, and elevated temperature materials such as 
molten aluminum.[Footnote 4]

According to reported incident data from the DOT's Research and Special 
Programs Administration (RSPA), the number of hazardous material 
incidents occurring during rail transportation declined from 1,128 in 
1992 to 894 in 2001 and accounted for approximately 7 percent of all 
incidents involving the transportation of these materials in all modes. 
For the period 1997 to 2001, hazardous material rail shipments 
represented an annual average of approximately 11 incidents and less 
than 1 serious incident per million tons of hazardous materials shipped 
by rail.[Footnote 5] For 1997, the latest year for which data on 
intermodal hazardous material shipment volumes are available, there 
were approximately 14 incidents and less than 1 serious incident per 
million tons of hazardous materials shipped by truck.

Although rail moves only a small percentage of all hazardous materials, 
it is the predominant method of transportation for some types of these 
materials, such as flammable solids.[Footnote 6] When measured in ton-
miles,[Footnote 7] hazardous materials shipped by rail are nearly 
equivalent to hazardous materials transported by road and 
water.[Footnote 8] The vast majority of shipments arrive safely at 
their destination. However, recent accidents in urban areas, such as 
the 2001 incident in the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore, Maryland, 
involving a fire fueled by hazardous materials, and a leak of 
hydrochloric acid from a parked tank car in an urban area in Lowell, 
Massachusetts, have called attention to the safety of hazardous 
materials shipped by rail. The events of September 11, 2001, and 
subsequent reviews of the vulnerability of the transportation sector, 
including rail, to terrorist attack have further focused attention on 
the security of hazardous materials in rail transport.

The proposed plan to ship spent nuclear fuel, as soon as 2010 and most 
likely by rail, to the Yucca Mountain Repository in Nevada--the 
nation's first long-term geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel and 
high-level radioactive waste--has raised concerns about the safety and 
security of possible transportation to this site.[Footnote 9] A second 
proposal to ship spent nuclear fuel to temporary storage in a private 
facility in Utah has heightened these concerns.[Footnote 10] Such 
shipments would substantially increase the volume of nuclear material 
transported in this country.[Footnote 11]

Two administrations within DOT, RSPA and the Federal Railroad 
Administration (FRA), have responsibilities, respectively, for 
developing regulations pertaining to the transportation of hazardous 
materials and for rail safety. RSPA is responsible for identifying and 
regulating the transportation of materials that may pose an 
unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in 
commerce.RSPA develops the hazardous material regulations, 
coordinating its work with other DOT administrations, including FRA. 
These regulations specify how shipments must be identified, packaged, 
and handled in transit.

RSPA published a final rule in the March 25, 2003, Federal Register--
Hazardous Materials: Security Requirements for Offerors and 
Transporters of Hazardous Materials, also known as HM-232--which 
imposes new security requirements on shippers and carriers of certain 
hazardous materials. The final rule requires people who offer or 
transport hazardous materials in amounts that require placarding to 
develop and implement a written security plan. The security plan must 
include an assessment of possible transportation security risks for the 
material(s) to be transported and appropriate measures to address 
identified risks. Specific measures established by the plan may vary 
depending on the level of threat at a particular time. In addition, the 
final rule requires all employees handling hazardous materials to 
receive security awareness training, beginning no later than the date 
of their first scheduled recurrent training. New employees must receive 
security awareness training within 90 days of employment. Employees 
handling hazardous materials in companies subject to the security plan 
requirement must receive in-depth training concerning the security plan 
and its implementation.

FRA oversees the safety of railroad equipment and operating practices 
and has authority to enforce compliance with the hazardous material 
regulations. DOT's regulation of the transport of hazardous materials 
under federal hazardous material transportation law preempts similar 
regulation by state and local agencies. States and local jurisdictions 
may not establish stricter or less stringent regulations governing 
hazardous material transportation.[Footnote 12]

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), created within DOT in 
the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, 
and now part of the newly created DHS, initially focused primarily on 
aviation issues but, along with DOT, is responsible for the security of 
all modes of transportation, including rail. According to TSA 
officials, the Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator for 
TSA have exchanged letters regarding the ongoing cooperation and 
relationship between TSA and the DOT operating administrations after 
the March 1, 2003, transfer of TSA from DOT to DHS. This correspondence 
sets forth a number of principles to guide this relationship.

Several other federal agencies also play a role in regulating rail 
shipments of hazardous materials. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission 
(NRC) and Department of Energy (DOE) oversee shipments of nuclear 
material. Although DOT regulates the transportation of radioactive 
material, including spent fuel, as a hazardous material, NRC also 
regulates the transportation of radioactive material by its licensees. 
The primary role of NRC, under a memorandum of agreement with DOT, is 
the establishment of packaging standards for fissile materials and for 
other radioactive materials exceeding certain limits.[Footnote 13] NRC 
certifies spent fuel casks and other radioactive material package 
designs that meet these standards and requires its licensees to use 
certified casks for transport. NRC also plays a significant role 
through safety and security requirements and through inspection and 
enforcement. In its role as developer of the Yucca Mountain Repository, 
DOE is responsible for shipping spent nuclear fuel from nuclear plants. 
In addition, DOE coordinates policies and program implementation for 
shipments of radioactive waste with DOT and NRC.

The Department of Defense's (DOD) Military Traffic Management Command 
is responsible for DOD's surface transportation shipments and requires 
that everyone participating in the shipment of DOD hazardous materials 
comply with hazardous material regulations. DOD also requires 
inspections for sensitive shipments, including hazardous materials, to 
be conducted by railroad police officers, trained railroad employees, 
or members of private security firms under contract to DOD.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety and 
Health Administration (OSHA) each have oversight responsibility 
regarding facilities that handle hazardous materials and are the source 
or destination of many hazardous material rail shipments. EPA, along 
with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), has authority for implementing and 
enforcing legislation governing the protection of public health and the 
environment against chemical and other polluting discharges and for 
abating and controlling pollution when spills occur. EPA has provided 
training and technical assistance to states and localities to enhance 
contingency planning and emergency response capabilities. EPA sometimes 
participates with other agencies in responding to hazardous material 
transportation incidents. OSHA promulgates and enforces standards to 
protect the safety and health of employees, including workers at 
facilities that handle hazardous materials and emergency responders to 
hazardous material incidents.

The USCG enforces spill prevention regulations on vessels and on the 
marine transfer portion of waterfront facilities. Under the National 
Contingency Plan, the USCG serves as the federal on scene coordinator 
for oil or hazardous substance releases in the coastal zone. All oil 
and hazardous material incidents are required to be reported to the 
National Response Center, which in turn is to notify state and local 
agencies and the appropriate on scene coordinator (either EPA for 
inland or USCG for coastal incidents). In each case, the on scene 
coordinator is to assess the need for federal involvement and, if 
appropriate, may respond, bringing additional response resources (such 
as contractors), special teams, and access to federal funding for 
hazardous material or oil spills.

The Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R) Directorate within DHS 
provides federal assistance to supplement the resources of state and 
local governments in major disasters, which could include emergencies 
involving hazardous material releases. Its assistance is governed by 
the Federal Response Plan that provides the mechanism for delivery of 
federal assistance and resources to augment state and local government 
efforts in a major disaster or emergency. In conjunction with NRC, DOE, 
DOD, EPA, and other agencies, DHS' EP&R also participates in the 
Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan to establish an organized 
and integrated capability for timely, coordinated response by federal 
agencies to peacetime radiological emergencies. For more details on the 
roles of various federal agencies in assisting state and local 
governments to respond to emergencies, see appendix V.

Industry Has Taken Steps to Address the Security of Transportation of 
Hazardous Materials by Rail, but TSA Has Not Yet Developed and 
Implemented a Rail Security Plan:

The railroad and chemical industries have taken a number of steps to 
enhance the security of transportation of hazardous materials. Some of 
these measures include the development of a rail security plan and an 
increase in security measures at some facilities. According to TSA 
officials, while much of TSA's resources have been focused on aviation 
security, TSA has assumed its responsibility for transportation 
security in all modes of transportation, including rail, and is 
beginning to develop an intermodal national transportation system 
security plan, which TSA officials consider to be a major component of 
the National Strategy for Homeland Security. Another TSA effort in this 
area involves the development of a memorandum of agreement with DOT's 
Federal Aviation Administration, which DOT officials said would serve 
as a guide for relations between TSA and modal administrations within 
DOT, including FRA and RSPA.

Although TSA has begun work on an overall intermodal transportation 
system security plan, it has not yet developed a plan to specifically 
address the security of individual surface transportation modes, 
including rail, and does not have time frames established for 
completing such an effort. The development of a security plan 
addressing rail transportation of hazardous materials that uses a risk-
based management approach, such as that used by other federal agencies, 
government commissions, and multinational corporations to defend 
against terrorism, would assist TSA in identifying threats that exist 
to the shipment of hazardous materials by rail, vulnerabilities that 
may be exploited in the system used to ship these materials, and high-
risk, high-consequence facilities that need protection.

Railroad Industry Has Developed a Security Plan and Taken Other Steps:

Prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, railroad 
companies' security efforts focused primarily on the prevention of 
theft at rail facilities. Representatives of several major railroad 
companies told us that they had toll-free emergency telephone numbers 
to report suspicious activity, including theft, in place before the 
terrorist attacks. According to a representative from the Association 
of American Railroads (AAR), which represents the major freight 
railroads in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, railroad companies 
currently employ over 1,000 police officers.

Within two weeks of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, AAR 
created a railroad security task force to analyze the industry's risk 
from and response to the threat of terrorism. AAR worked jointly with 
several chemical industry associations and consultants from a security 
firm to develop the industry's security management plan.[Footnote 14] 
As part of this effort, AAR created critical action teams to assess the 
rail industry's security in five areas: infrastructure, military 
operations, information technology and communications, security of 
operations, and hazardous materials. The plan that resulted from this 
effort was presented to its member railroads and TSA in December 2001. 
It established four alert levels and described a graduated series of 
actions to prevent terrorist threats to railroad personnel and 
facilities that correspond to each alert level. The actions include 
progressively rigorous countermeasures to be taken in the areas of 
operations, information technology and communications, and police. The 
countermeasures include actions to heighten security awareness, limit 
the sharing of information about sensitive shipments, and test that 
security systems are operating as intended. With U.S. military action 
in Iraq, the railroad industry has taken additional security steps, 
including real-time monitoring and additional surveillance of 
designated trains; increased security at some rail yards; and increased 
inspection of priority railroad tracks, tunnels, and bridges.

Representatives of several major railroad companies and the railroad 
industry told us that the railroads have implemented a number of new 
security measures since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, 
including the following:

* increasing the awareness of employees about potential security 
threats;

* enhancing dispatch command and control centers;

* monitoring hazardous materials with video surveillance;

* restricting access to facilities through the use of key cards;

* installing better lighting, fencing, and barricades at rail 
facilities;

* monitoring of critical infrastructure locations by police officers 
and contracted security guards;

* employing additional security officers to protect hazardous materials 
in storage;

* instituting more threat information sharing with the Federal Bureau 
of Investigation, as well as state and local government agencies;

* conducting security evaluations of rail facilities;

* limiting access to electronic tracking of shipments of hazardous 
materials; and:

* conducting "red team" assault tests in which rail companies send 
undercover security officers to test employees' responses to 
trespassers.

We visited rail facilities at five locations, in part to observe 
security measures there. Overall, we observed more physical security 
measures at large rail facilities than at smaller facilities. Both the 
small and large facilities we visited had signs indicating that 
trespassing was not permitted and that railroad personnel were on duty 
part of or all day. In addition, the large facilities had security 
video cameras, lights, observation towers staffed by railroad personnel 
that can be used as security lookouts, and fencing along some parts of 
the facility. However, all of the facilities we visited could be 
readily accessed because they are not fenced or fences did not 
completely separate the facilities from adjacent areas, and some of the 
facilities did not have gates around them. Figure 1 shows photos of 
rail facilities in some of the case study locations we visited. We 
observed the following during our visits:

* rail companies relied heavily on the vigilance of employees;

* employees provided photo identifications upon request, but were not 
required to display them;

* the presence of security guards varied; and:

* at intermodal facilities, where hazardous material products are 
transferred between rail cars and trucks for continued shipment, 
procedures were in place to check for tampering with the valves of tank 
cars transporting hazardous materials.

Figure 1: Photos of Rail Facilities:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Despite reporting that they had implemented enhanced security measures, 
railroad industry representatives told us that it is not possible to 
eliminate all vulnerabilities and, without government assistance, the 
industry lacks the resources to counter a significant terrorist attack.

TSA Is Beginning to Address Rail Security:

Since its creation in November 2001, TSA has primarily focused on 
improving aviation security to meet the deadlines established in the 
Aviation and Transportation Security Act for TSA to assume civil 
aviation security functions and responsibilities, such as implementing 
federal passenger screening. As a result, TSA has not yet assumed full 
responsibility for security in other modes of transportation, such as 
rail.

The establishment of TSA's Office of Maritime and Land Security in 
March 2002 marked the beginning of TSA's efforts to address security in 
other modal areas, including the security of rail transportation. The 
goals for this office are to prevent terrorist attacks, protect 
transportation without impeding movement, and respond to transportation 
accidents or incidents promptly.

TSA's Office of Maritime and Land Security plans to hire 200 employees 
to cover all 50 states by 2004, subject to resource constraints. As of 
March 2003, the office had filled 83 of the 200 positions. TSA 
officials said that since the office's eventual staff will be 
relatively small, the office plans to work jointly with DOT to maximize 
resources by relying on other modal administrations to cover day-to-day 
security operations. According to TSA officials, the office will focus 
on identifying security gaps and improving security plans in each mode.

TSA Has Taken Some Steps to Address the Security of Hazardous Material 
Transportation by Rail, but Has Not Yet Developed a Rail Security Plan:

TSA has taken some steps to address the security of hazardous material 
rail shipments, including starting the development of an intermodal 
transportation system security plan, establishing working 
relationships with DOT's modal administrations, and conducting an 
initial review of the rail industry's own security rail plan. In March 
2003, DHS launched Operation Liberty Shield to help protect the 
nation's infrastructure and deter possible terrorist attacks. Among 
other things, this national plan calls for (1) state governors to 
provide additional police or National Guard forces at selected railroad 
bridges; and (2) railroad companies to improve the security of major 
rail facilities and hubs, monitor shipments of hazardous materials, and 
increase the surveillance of trains carrying these materials. 
Nevertheless, TSA has not yet developed a security plan for rail that 
systematically determines the adequacy of security measures already in 
place and identifies gaps that need to be addressed.

TSA officials told us that they and officials in other components of 
DHS are working on a national transportation system security plan to 
address the security challenges of the nation's transportation system 
using a threat-based and risk management approach. This plan is to 
address the intermodal aspects of the transportation system first and 
then to provide a strategic framework for future TSA activities in 
transportation security. TSA officials said that they hope to have the 
key components of this intermodal plan in place by May 2003 and after 
that time they will consider security on individual transportation 
modes, including rail. TSA has also signed a memorandum of agreement 
with DOT's Federal Aviation Administration, which DOT officials said 
would serve as a guide for relations between TSA and DOT's modal 
administrations, including FRA and RSPA.

TSA's Office of Maritime and Land Security officials told us that they 
have reviewed AAR's security plan, and they credited AAR for its 
efforts in conducting a very aggressive vulnerability assessment. The 
TSA officials said that they are considering using aspects of the AAR 
assessment as the basis for a model that TSA plans to develop on how to 
conduct vulnerability assessments. However, the officials noted that 
some areas of AAR's plan need to be clarified, such as what specific 
measures individual railroad companies will be expected to implement. 
FRA officials have also reviewed AAR's plan and commented that AAR 
needs to identify mitigating actions more specifically.

TSA officials told us they are planning to undertake projects in the 
future that we believe could become part of a rail security plan, 
including the development of physical security standards and an 
assessment of vulnerable hazardous material transportation areas. As a 
first step, officials said that they plan to visit seaport facilities, 
which face similar threats to protecting hazardous material shipments 
as rail facilities do, to determine what physical security standards 
could be applied to other modes of transportation, in areas such as 
facility lighting levels or monitoring by closed-circuit televisions. 
Given their initial focus on aviation security priorities, TSA 
officials said they have not yet established time frames for developing 
these physical security standards or conducting a vulnerability 
assessment of the rail industry. FRA officials told us that they are 
working with TSA on their efforts to develop and implement federal 
standards for railroad security.

The development of a security plan addressing rail transportation of 
hazardous materials that uses a risk-based management approach would 
assist TSA by providing a strategy to identify threats to these 
shipments, vulnerabilities that may be targeted in the system used to 
ship these materials, and high-risk, high consequence facilities that 
need protection. Although TSA has taken steps and is considering future 
measures to address the security of hazardous material rail shipments, 
it does not yet have a risk-based plan to guide its actions 
specifically in this area. Until TSA develops such a plan, it will not 
know whether resources are being deployed as effectively and 
efficiently as possible to reduce the risk of possible terrorist 
attacks.

In our previous work on homeland security, we have determined that the 
federal government can benefit from a risk management approach to 
defend against terrorism.[Footnote 15] This approach can provide 
organizations with a process for enhancing their preparedness to 
respond to terrorist attacks and to permit better direction of national 
finite resources to areas of highest priority. Figure 2 shows the 
components of a risk management approach to defend against terrorism. 
This approach includes the following:

* a threat assessment to identify and evaluate potential threats on the 
basis of factors such as capabilities, intentions, and impact of an 
attack;

* a vulnerability assessment to identify weaknesses that may be 
exploited by identified threats and suggest options to address those 
weaknesses; and:

* a criticality assessment to evaluate and identify assets and 
infrastructure in terms of specific criteria such as their importance 
to public safety and the economy.

Figure 2: Components of a Risk Management Approach to Defend Against 
Terrorism:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Several Issues Regarding the Safety and Security of Hazardous Materials 
Transported by Rail Remain Unresolved:

Our discussions with federal and private sector hazardous material 
transportation experts and local community officials identified several 
issues that, in their opinion, remain unresolved regarding the safe and 
secure transportation of hazardous materials by rail. These issues 
include the need for measures to better safeguard hazardous materials 
stored in rail cars while awaiting delivery to a final destination--a 
practice commonly referred to as "storage-in-transit"--the 
advisability of requiring companies to notify local communities of the 
type and quantities of materials stored in transit, and the appropriate 
amount of information rail companies should be required to provide 
local officials regarding hazardous material shipments passing through 
their communities.

Concerns about the Safety and Security of Hazardous Materials Stored in 
Transit Have Not Yet Been Fully Addressed:

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, have raised concerns about 
the exposure and vulnerability of hazardous materials stored in transit 
in chemical rail cars on rail sidings and in rail yards. Emergency 
response officials in three of the locations we visited identified 
storage-in-transit as a safety and security concern for their 
communities.

The local officials said that they were aware of rail cars that were 
unsecured and, in some cases, provided photographs or videotape as 
evidence of the lack of security. According to these local officials, 
unmonitored chemical cars could develop undetected leaks that could 
threaten the nearby population and environment. A May 31, 2002, 
hydrochloric acid leak from a rail car in Lowell, Massachusetts, is a 
recent example of such an incident. In this incident, a rail car parked 
on a siding developed a leak that produced a cloud of hazardous vapor 
before the 200-gallon leak of hazardous materials was contained.

Local Government Officials Believe Some Shipments Stored in Transit May 
Violate a Rule to Expedite Shipments:

Although they could not provide documentation to support their beliefs, 
local government officials we interviewed in two locations stated that 
they believed that, in some cases, shipments stored in transit in their 
local areas might be in violation of DOT's 48-hour rule[Footnote 16] 
that generally requires a carrier to move each shipment of hazardous 
materials promptly and within 48 hours after its receipt at any yard, 
transfer station, or interchange point.

Although local officials believe the 48-hour rule is a safety and 
security standard for shipments of hazardous materials stored in 
transit, FRA officials told us that the 48-hour rule was not instituted 
for storage safety concerns. According to FRA officials, the 48-hour 
rule was implemented for economic reasons, not safety reasons. FRA 
officials said that the rule was developed in the early 1900s because 
oil companies were using rail yards as convenient storage warehouses 
and not promptly moving their shipments.[Footnote 17] The rail 
companies did not want their property to be used as a storage warehouse 
without compensation. FRA officials said that they do not necessarily 
encourage rail companies to move rail cars affected by the 48-hour rule 
to another destination just to meet the time limit because this might 
result in moving a car from a safe to a hazardous location.

FRA Is Beginning to Address Potential Safety and Security Issues 
Regarding Storage-in-transit:

FRA officials recognize that the security concerns regarding storage-
in-transit have grown since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 
From a security standpoint, the officials said that new regulations for 
storage-in-transit materials should be considered. According to these 
officials, such measures may include not allowing rail cars containing 
certain highly hazardous commodities to be stored in transit.

FRA is currently reviewing the safety and security of hazardous 
materials stored in transit through initiatives such as collaboration 
with the American Chemistry Council to examine how storage-in-transit 
shipments typically move, how the chemical industry can better expedite 
these movements, and viable alternatives to storing chemicals in 
transit. TSA is leading an initiative to follow chlorine shipments from 
origin to destination. Its overall goal is to determine best practices 
for shipments as well as the types of measures needed to secure 
shipments, including those stored in transit. TSA has reached out to 
the Chlorine Institute, American Chemistry Council, FRA, RSPA, and AAR. 
TSA hopes to expand the lessons learned from this initiative to other 
hazardous material rail shipments.

RSPA Plans to Clarify the Regulatory Oversight of the Safety and 
Security of Hazardous Materials Stored in Transit:

In addition to expressing concern about the safety and security of 
hazardous materials stored in transit and their need for information on 
the types and quantities of these materials, a local official that we 
interviewed told us that he was unclear about which federal agency has 
regulatory oversight for the safety and security of this area. Some 
issues pertaining to the specific scope of DOT and EPA's roles in the 
regulatory oversight of hazardous materials stored in transit have not 
been fully determined. According to RSPA, confusion exists in the 
regulated community and among federal, state, and local agencies with 
hazardous material safety responsibilities regarding whether and to 
what extent DOT hazardous material transportation safety regulations 
apply to particular operations related to the transportation of 
hazardous materials in commerce, such as storage-in-transit on tracks 
leased to fixed facilities.[Footnote 18]

In response to requests for clarification on whether particular 
activities, such as storage-in-transit, should be considered 
transportation operations, RSPA has issued a proposed rule--
Applicability of the Hazardous Materials Regulations to Loading, 
Unloading, and Storage, also known as HM-223--to clarify the 
applicability of DOT's hazardous material regulations to specific 
functions and activities, including loading and unloading of hazardous 
materials and their storage during transportation. RSPA officials have 
concluded that, given the potential for continuing terrorist threats 
and the critical need to assure the security of hazardous materials at 
fixed facilities and in transportation, it is more important than ever 
to clarify its jurisdiction over hazardous materials in transportation.	
:

According to RSPA, confusion exists concerning whether EPA or DOT 
regulations apply to storage-in-transit on leased tracks because 
federal regulations do not clearly articulate whether this operation is 
transportation or nontransportation related. Under HM-223, RSPA is 
considering two options for regulatory oversight of storage-in-transit 
occurring on leased tracks. Under the first option, storage on leased 
tracks would be considered as storage after movement in transportation 
of the rail car has been completed whether the hazardous material is to 
be unloaded at that destination or not. The hazardous material 
transportation regulations would not apply under this option and 
hazardous material inspectors could not apply DOT's hazardous material 
rail safety requirements concerning proper shipping papers, operational 
handling of rail cars, or placards to indicate the hazardous content of 
rail cars.

According to EPA officials that we interviewed, under this option, 
EPA's risk management program regulations under the Clean Air Act might 
apply if storage on leased tracks contained more than a threshold 
amount of certain regulated highly toxic materials, such as chlorine. 
These officials note that EPA has stated that the Clean Air Act is not 
preempted by DOT's authority. They said that while EPA generally does 
not regulate activities regulated by DOT, there are circumstances where 
both agencies' authorities might apply, for example, with respect to 
long-term storage or facility equipment involved in loading or 
unloading.

Under the second option being considered, storage on leased tracks 
would be considered storage related to transportation and thus subject 
to all the applicable requirements of the DOT hazardous material 
regulation, even if the leased tracks were the final destination 
identified on the shipping papers. This would ensure that rail cars 
would be subject to all pertinent DOT hazardous material requirements.

While RSPA's efforts to propose rule making on the applicability of the 
hazardous material transportation regulations to loading, unloading, 
and storage of hazardous materials began with an advanced notice of 
public rule making in 1996, RSPA officials said that HM-223, which 
culminates those efforts, will be not be finalized until June 2003. 
Over this period, to address issues involved in clarifying jurisdiction 
in this area, RSPA published another advanced notice of public rule 
making in 1999 and held public meetings to obtain proposals and 
recommendations on the applicability of hazardous material regulations 
from the regulated community, which includes shippers, carriers, 
warehouses, and federal, state, and local public safety agencies. In 
2001, RSPA published a notice of proposed rule making requesting 
written comments on proposals from these organizations.

Notifying Local Communities on the Type and Quantities of Hazardous 
Materials Stored in Transit Has Not Been Addressed:

While chemical manufacturers are required to notify their communities 
of the existence of hazardous materials at their facilities, the 
advisability of requiring companies to notify local communities on the 
type and quantities of materials stored in transit has not been 
similarly addressed by DOT. Based on their observations, local 
officials from two of the 10 jurisdictions that we visited told us that 
they believe storage-in-transit shipments remain in rail yards for 
periods longer than 48 hours. To ensure adequate safety and security 
for hazardous materials stored in transit, the officials at one 
location suggested that the 48-hour rule be more strongly enforced to 
expedite shipments or, if hazardous material shipments remain 
stationary for extended periods of time (beyond the 48-hour period), 
these shipments should be regulated in a manner similar to hazardous 
materials stored in fixed facilities--with reporting requirements for 
companies to provide information to emergency response officials on the 
types and quantities of materials stored in transit.

The local officials said that, because these hazardous materials stored 
in transit are parked in their community for extended periods of time, 
they present a risk similar to the potential health and safety risk 
posed by chemicals at a fixed facility. They expressed a need to have 
information on the types and quantities of hazardous materials stored 
in transit in their communities to ensure that they have the proper 
training and equipment to respond to incidents involving these 
materials, and told us that they had experienced difficulty in 
obtaining information on these materials stored in transit. The local 
officials that we interviewed in one location feel that companies 
should be required to provide information on the contents of the rail 
cars in a manner similar to that required of fixed facilities under the 
Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986.[Footnote 
19] Under the requirements of this act, chemical manufacturers are 
required to notify their communities of the existence, as well as some 
routine and accidental releases, of hazardous materials at their 
facilities to aid in emergency planning.

While some local officials that we interviewed cited the need to 
receive information on the types and quantities of hazardous materials 
stored in transit, FRA officials told us that they were not in favor of 
sharing real-time data on these shipments. FRA officials said that it 
would be a significant logistical challenge for railroads to share 
real-time data regarding individual freight movements stored in 
transit. These officials said that providing advance notification 
information could also create new security concerns as detailed 
information on the whereabouts of hazardous materials becomes known in 
great detail by a large number of individuals. In addition, FRA 
officials commented that it would be inappropriate to require railroads 
to report to local communities on all hazardous materials stored in 
transit because the railroads have limited advance knowledge of what 
will be stored at these locations.

Opinions Differ on Adequacy of Hazardous Material Shipment Information 
Provided to Communities, but No Determination Has Been Made on 
Appropriate Amount of Disclosure:

While differing opinions exist concerning the adequacy of hazardous 
material shipment information currently provided to local communities, 
no determination has been made at a federal level on the appropriate 
amount of information rail companies should be required to provide to 
communities regarding overall hazardous material shipments to enhance 
their emergency preparedness. Officials from five of the ten 
communities that we visited said they did not need advance notification 
information on specific shipment types and quantities. Due to the high 
volume and variety of hazardous material shipments through his area, an 
official from one of these communities said that they employ an 
approach to respond to all types of chemical emergencies. He believes 
that this approach is more effective for his community's circumstances 
rather than trying to prepare for specific chemicals that might be 
involved in incidents. However, some officials from two of these five 
communities told us that they would like to receive advance 
notification of special shipments, such as high-level radioactive 
materials or explosives. Officials from the other five communities that 
we visited said that they would like to receive advance notification of 
certain shipments for emergency planning purposes.

AAR suggests to its member railroads that, as a voluntary policy, they 
provide, when requested, historical information on hazardous materials 
that have been shipped through a community. Officials from AAR member 
railroads that we interviewed said that they complied with this 
voluntary policy. For example, a railroad, when asked, will inform a 
community of the types of hazardous materials most frequently shipped 
through that community over the past year. This policy covers AAR 
member railroads, which account for more than 96 percent of intercity 
rail freight service and 100 percent of intercity passenger service in 
the United States.[Footnote 20]

Emergency response officials that we spoke to at one of our site visits 
said that they had experienced difficulty in obtaining limited 
historical information about shipments of hazardous materials from a 
railroad that was not an AAR member. The local officials told us that 
it took 4 years of requests before the company agreed to provide this 
information to assist them in their emergency management planning. In 
the interim, the locality had to respond to a hazardous material 
incident on the company's tracks 
involving a tank car leaking hydrochloric acid, which emergency 
responders were unaware had been stored on rail tracks in the 
community. Officials that we spoke to from national rail industry 
organizations offered their opinions on the subject of advance 
notification. An official from one organization said that he does not 
support providing advance notification information on specific upcoming 
shipments to local communities because of the high volume of materials 
shipped and the low probability of release. An official from another 
organization said that his organization is not in favor of providing 
advance notification because it would be too much information sent on a 
daily basis and would soon be ignored. He further cautioned that 
releasing information about planned shipments could pose a security 
risk because such information could be used to identify 
vulnerabilities.

FRA officials told us that careful consideration needs to be given to 
the full implications of advance notification. They said that this 
includes security implications, community capability to make 
constructive use of the data, the potential costs and benefits of such 
requirements, and whether these requirements should be applied to other 
modes of transportation, such as motor carriers. Furthermore, in 
commenting on the overall consideration of new security measures for 
the rail industry, FRA officials told us that whatever security 
enhancements might be required for rail shipments of hazardous 
materials should be accompanied by appropriate security requirements 
for truck shipments so that shippers not switch to a potentially more 
vulnerable but less expensive alternative.

Most Localities Visited Report They Are Generally Prepared to Respond 
to Hazardous Material Rail Incidents, but Sufficiency of Actions Taken 
Cannot Be Determined:

Even though a host of voluntary standards and self-assessment tools are 
available to assist localities in assessing aspects of their emergency 
response capabilities, no standardized tool currently exists to 
objectively determine a locality's level of preparedness to respond to 
hazardous material incidents. As such, the localities that we visited 
provided information on their preparedness based on their own self-
assessments rather than on uniform national criteria. These localities 
took actions to prepare for and respond to hazardous material incidents 
based on self-assessments formed from a variety of factors. For the 
most part, these localities said that they found themselves prepared to 
respond to hazardous material rail incidents based on their own 
selected criteria. Due to the absence of a standardized tool to gauge 
the level of preparedness, we were unable to determine the sufficiency 
of local community actions to prepare for hazardous material rail 
incidents given the risk factors that they face.[Footnote 21]

Case Study Findings Show Varying Preparedness Actions Taken by Local 
Communities:

To assess local community capability to prepare for and respond to 
potential terrorist attacks or accidents involving rail shipments, we 
visited 10 localities in the United States. Each of these localities 
was judgmentally selected based on at least one of following three 
criteria:

* experienced a recent and significant rail incident involving 
hazardous materials,

* had a large population and flow of hazardous materials shipped 
through it by rail, and:

* had a small population and large flow of hazardous materials shipped 
through it by rail.

Officials from most localities that we visited reported that their 
cities are generally prepared to respond to these incidents. Officials 
from the localities told us that they have emergency response plans in 
place, access to either their own or another hazardous material 
response team, and that they plan and conduct training and drills. In 
addition, these localities report that they have most of the basic 
equipment necessary to respond to a hazardous material incident on 
hand. Although officials said they were generally prepared to respond 
to incidents involving hazardous chemical materials, they said that 
they were less prepared to deal with incidents involving radioactive 
materials, with some locations citing a lack of equipment and training 
needed to respond. Also, local officials that we interviewed said that 
technical communication compatibility could be improved, but they have 
developed ways to accommodate communication needs, such as the use of 
cellular phones. Finally, local officials from over half of the 
locations that we visited said that their communities lacked sufficient 
funds to cover the positions left temporarily vacant by personnel 
taking training.

Self-assessments Show That Most Locations Are Prepared to Respond to 
Hazardous Materials Incidents, but Not to Incidents Involving 
Radioactive Materials:

Based on their own self-assessments, local fire department officials 
from most of the cities that we visited said that they are generally 
prepared to respond to a hazardous material incident. A few officials 
whom we interviewed said that although their city is prepared to 
respond to a hazardous material incident, their in-house capability 
would depend on the types of hazardous materials involved and the scope 
of the incident. For example, one fire department official said that he 
is comfortable with his city's capabilities to respond to chemical 
accidents such as leaking tank cars, spills, and derailments. He 
believed that his city could adequately respond to a hazardous material 
incident unless it was a catastrophic event, such as a major derailment 
involving multiple cars. This official stated, however, that in the 
event of a large-scale hazardous material incident, his city would use 
additional resources from private, state, and federal organizations, as 
well as mutual aid plans, where neighboring jurisdictions agree to 
provide emergency response resources to one another in the event that 
they are needed to augment their own response capabilities.

When asked if they were prepared to respond to a hazardous material 
incident involving radioactive materials, officials from most of the 
locations we visited said that they were less capable of responding to 
such incidents, with some locations citing a lack of equipment and 
training to respond. To prepare for the increase in spent nuclear fuel 
shipments expected with the proposed Yucca Mountain Repository, which 
is scheduled to begin operations in 2010, the federal government has 
begun preliminary planning to ensure local preparedness for the safe 
transport of spent nuclear fuel. If the Yucca Mountain Repository is 
licensed, DOE will be required, under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 
1982,[Footnote 22] to implement a program to train local public safety 
officials through whose jurisdictions DOE plans to ship radioactive 
materials to the repository. According to DOE, this program will be 
funded 5 years prior to the start of Yucca Mountain operations.

Emergency Response Plans Are in Place at All Locations:

Emergency response plans are in place at all the localities we visited. 
These plans address all the hazards applicable to each location and 
include emergency responses to hazardous material incidents, including 
rail incidents. The plans vary according to the resources that each 
locality relies on and the specific courses of action each identifies 
to be taken in the event of an emergency. For example, the plans 
document which city agency is designated as a lead response agency in 
the event of an incident,[Footnote 23] identify support agencies that 
can be called in, such as police and health departments, and outline 
civil defense procedures. Plans also vary on how often they are 
updated. In light of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, 
officials from half of the locations we visited told us that they have 
incorporated new terrorism response procedures into their emergency 
planning, including training or response protocols.

Most Cities We Visited Have Dedicated Hazardous Material Teams and All 
Have Access to Public Hazardous Material Teams:

More than half of the cities we visited have their own dedicated 
hazardous material teams to respond to incidents involving the release 
of hazardous materials, including those occurring at fixed facilities 
or in rail transportation. These are all large or medium-sized 
cities.[Footnote 24] Cities that do not have their own hazardous 
material teams have access to a local, regional, state, or private 
hazardous material response team. For example, an official from one 
small city said that the city has access to the resources of the state 
police hazardous material team. As part of their emergency response 
plans, other cities have access to chemists from private industry or 
universities to provide technical assistance in identifying chemicals 
and their hazards in the event of an incident.

All Fire Department Personnel Have at Least Some Hazardous Material 
Response Training:

Local fire department officials that we interviewed in all the 
locations we visited said that their fire department personnel have 
received at least awareness-level training, the lowest level of 
training recommended in National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 
Standard 472, Professional Competence of Responders to Hazardous 
Materials Incidents. However, a representative of a national emergency 
response organization suggested that the minimum level of training for 
first responders should actually be at the operations level, the second 
highest level of training described in NFPA Standard 472. Fire 
departments in the locations we visited varied in providing operations 
level training for their fire fighting personnel. However, for the 
locations with specialized hazardous material teams, all hazardous 
material team personnel received technician level training, the third 
highest level of training recommended by NFPA Standard 472. Table 1 
lists the four levels of training recommended by NFPA Standard 472.

Table 1: NFPA Levels of Professional Competence for First Responders to 
Hazardous Materials Incidents:

Level: Awareness; Definition: The basic competency developed by the 
NFPA for first responders to a hazardous materials incident. The 
training includes providing first responders with the knowledge and 
skills to identify a hazardous materials incident and to contact the 
appropriate response resource in accordance with local standard 
operating procedures.

Level: Operational; Definition: The second level of competency 
developed by the NFPA for first responders to hazardous materials 
incidents. First responders trained at this level will meet the 
competency of the NFPA's awareness level training as well as any 
additional competency designed to allow the responder to plan and 
initiate a response to the incident.

Level: Technician; Definition: The third level of competency developed 
by the NFPA for first responders to hazardous materials incidents. 
First responders trained at this level will meet the competency of the 
NFPA's awareness and operational standards. Additional training 
includes appropriate measures to meet federal and other state, local, 
or provincial occupation health and safety regulator requirements.

Level: Incident Commander; Definition: The highest level of competency 
developed by the NFPA for first responders to hazardous materials 
incidents. First responders trained at this level will meet all NFPA 
standards for awareness and operational levels. In addition, responders 
trained at the command level will have the necessary knowledge to 
analyze a hazardous material incident and plan for and mitigate 
incidents.

Source: National Fire Protection Association. Reprinted with permission 
from NFPA 472-2002, Professional Competence of Responders to Hazardous 
Materials Incidents, Copyright © 2002, National Fire Protection 
Association, Quincy, MA 02269.

Note: This reprinted material is not the complete and official position 
of the NFPA on the referenced subject, which is represented only by the 
standard in its entirety.

[End of table]

In addition to fire departments, officials in some cities we visited 
told us that they have trained other departmental personnel, such as 
police, health, and public works, for response to hazardous material 
incidents. The officials we interviewed said that, while these other 
agencies are not expected to serve a primary role in the containment of 
hazardous material incidents, this training familiarizes these 
personnel with response procedures in the event that they are the first 
on the scene to an incident or are required to assist responding fire 
fighters, such as by rerouting traffic.

More Than Half of The Cities We Visited Have Conducted Hazardous 
Material Response Drills and Cited Lessons Learned:

Officials from more than half of the case study locations that we 
visited said that they conducted response drills to prepare for 
hazardous material incidents. These cities have had at least one 
hazardous material drill within the last 3 years. Officials from some 
cities said that they have conducted rail-specific hazardous material 
response drills.

Among the cities that have conducted drills or experienced prior 
hazardous material rail accidents, officials told us that these 
experiences had highlighted the need for:

* better communication and coordination, including the use of the 
incident command system, among departments or mutual aid districts 
during an emergency;

* joint training;

* better dissemination of information to the public including better 
public awareness of civil defense procedures; and:

* better crowd control in a mass decontamination situation.

Equipment Is Lacking in Some Locations:

In addition to a firefighter's standard turnout gear, several pieces of 
equipment are commonly used to respond to hazardous material 
incidents.[Footnote 25] These include airborne chemical detection 
equipment, spare turnout gear, protective gear, air hazard detection 
equipment, and chemical identification kits. While officials that we 
interviewed said that they have the majority of this equipment on hand 
to use in response to a hazardous material incident, some locations 
said they lacked some additional equipment that was not on this list, 
such as patient extraction equipment and hazardous material response 
vehicles to carry equipment to the scene. More than half the locations 
specifically cited a need for additional radiological response 
equipment, such as detectors, decontamination equipment, and personal 
protective equipment.

Compatibility of Communication Equipment Varies by Location:

Officials in half of the case study locations we visited told us that 
communication systems are not compatible between city agencies. In 
addition, officials in most of the case study locations we visited said 
that they could not communicate with other jurisdictions without the 
use of an intermediary communication device, such as a dispatch center. 
While officials we interviewed said that communication compatibility 
could be improved, most said that they have developed ways to 
accommodate communication needs, such as the use of cellular phones. 
However, in one location that had experienced a recent rail accident 
involving hazardous materials, officials cited radio communication 
incompatibility as a problem. These local officials said that they did 
not have the compatibility to speak by radio to officials from other 
agencies outside the city. Officials from some case study locations 
also told us that communication systems do not work as well 
underground.

Officials Said That Training Can Be Difficult to Access Because of 
Personnel Funding Constraints:

Officials from over half of the case study locations we visited said 
that they had difficulty accessing hazardous material response training 
opportunities because of the cost of providing replacements for those 
first responders taking training. In addition, one national response 
organization stated it visits localities to provide training to help 
alleviate costs that may be associated with travel to off-site training 
courses.

DHS' Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response Is Beginning 
Work on a Baseline Assessment Tool to Determine Preparedness Levels:

With the development of a national homeland security strategy, DHS' 
EP&R Directorate has also recognized a need for the federal government 
to conduct an assessment of state emergency response preparedness 
levels that would allow it to determine a baseline to measure 
preparedness across the country. Since most local emergency response 
standards and procedures are voluntary in nature and states employ a 
wide variety of guides in their planning, the EP&R Directorate chose to 
adopt one of these assessment tools--the Emergency Management 
Accreditation Program (EMAP) criteria--to standardize the data 
collection process and help the agency ascertain factors in 
vulnerabilities on a national level. EP&R Directorate officials 
characterized EMAP standards as being very rigorous.

In fiscal year 2003, as a first step toward developing a preparedness 
baseline, EP&R Directorate officials plan to request that all 50 states 
complete a self-assessment of their level of preparedness to respond to 
emergencies using EMAP standards as a guide. From the assessment 
program, EP&R Directorate officials said that they hope that 
communities evaluate their own capabilities, identify deficits, and 
establish performance standards to improve emergency response. EP&R 
Directorate officials also plan to work with a team of EMAP peer 
reviewers to validate the operability of state emergency response plans 
as an additional tool in gauging preparedness. This information would 
then be used to determine the EP&R Directorate's baseline of national 
preparedness levels.

To validate state emergency response planning, the EP&R Directorate 
plans to train assessment teams to evaluate preparedness using a common 
methodology. These teams would spend from 3 to 8 days evaluating each 
state. Their methodology would include checks of state emergency plan 
resources. For example, if a certain organization within a state is 
expected to provide a specific resource or serve a role in the plan, 
the reviewers would contact that organization and verify that the 
resource contacts know what is expected of them and can perform the 
tasks. EP&R Directorate officials said that assessments of all states 
are due to be completed by the end of 2004. The EP&R Directorate plans 
on assessing about half the states annually in this program and issuing 
a midprogram assessment report.

Conclusions:

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, have focused attention on 
the security and potential vulnerabilities of the nation's 
transportation infrastructure. In response to heightened awareness, the 
railroad industry took action to develop a security plan using a risk 
management approach to address perceived vulnerabilities. The adequacy 
of this industry plan to protect communities and the railroad 
infrastructure is still unclear since TSA, which is responsible for the 
security of all modes of transportation, including rail, has not yet 
developed a plan to specifically address the security of rail 
transportation, even though it has started developing a risk-based 
intermodal transportation system security plan. Without such a specific 
plan, TSA lacks a framework for systematically evaluating and 
prioritizing actions needed to ensure the safety and security of the 
transportation of hazardous materials by rail.

Some of the communities that participated in our case studies expressed 
concerns regarding the safety and security of hazardous materials in 
rail cars passing through or stored in their communities. They wanted 
additional information on the types and quantities of these materials 
since, without this information, it is difficult for communities to 
know how to prepare for possible incidents involving hazardous 
releases. However, this need for information must be balanced against 
the security risks that disclosure could pose.

Recommendation for Executive Action:

To help meet the requirement to secure all modes of transportation 
under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, we recommend that 
the Secretary of Homeland Security work jointly with the Secretary of 
Transportation to develop a risk-based plan that specifically addresses 
the security of the nation's rail infrastructure. This plan should 
build upon the railroad industry's experience with rail infrastructure 
and the transportation of hazardous materials and establish time frames 
for implementing specific security actions necessary to protect 
hazardous material rail shipments. Among the areas that should be 
addressed in developing this plan are:

* the appropriate roles of the private sector and federal, state, and 
local governments;

* minimum security standards for hazardous materials stored in transit 
in rail cars; and:

* the appropriate level of disclosure to local communities of the types 
and quantities of hazardous materials passing through or stored in 
transit in these communities.

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation:

We provided the Departments of Defense, Energy, Health and Human 
Services, Homeland Security, Justice, Labor, and Transportation, as 
well as the Environmental Protection Agency, National Transportation 
Safety Board, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with copies of a draft 
of this report for their review and comment. The Departments of 
Defense, Justice, and Labor, as well as the National Transportation 
Safety Board, did not provide comments. The Departments of Health and 
Human Services and Energy, as well as the Environmental Protection 
Agency and Nuclear Regulatory Commission, provided technical comments 
and generally agreed with our report. The Departments of Transportation 
and Homeland Security provided oral comments. They generally agreed 
with our report and acknowledged that no plan to specifically address 
rail security has been developed, but stressed that they have taken 
some actions to enhance the security of hazardous material rail 
shipments. We incorporated these comments where appropriate. In 
addition, the Department of Transportation raised other issues 
regarding rail security, which are discussed below.

The Administrator of FRA commented that our report gave the impression 
that, in the absence of explicit federal security requirements, 
railroad companies were paying insufficient attention to security 
risks. This was not our intention. Rather, our report credits the 
timely effort to address rail hazardous material risk by the 
Association of American Railroads, which was performed with a number of 
chemical manufacturers. It further lists security measures reported by 
individual railroads in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.

FRA officials also commented that the safety risks associated with the 
storage-in-transit of hazardous materials received inappropriate 
emphasis in the report, suggesting that the concern is based only on 
anecdotal information. We did not attempt to define the magnitude of 
the safety risks associated with storage-in-transit. Rather, we 
reported the concerns expressed by some local communities about this 
practice without attempting to determine the extent of the problem at a 
national level.

On May 28, 2003, we subsequently received from FRA a clarification of 
their views on the risk-based plan for rail security that we 
recommended. FRA wanted to be on record as recognizing the merits of 
risk-based management and supportive of its use in day-to-day business. 
The agency's position is contained in a letter to GAO that we have 
included as appendix VI. Our response to this letter is contained in 
appendix VII.

As agreed with your offices, unless you publicly announce the contents 
of this report earlier, we plan no further distribution until 30 days 
from the report date. At that time, we will send copies of this report 
to the agencies listed above. We also will make copies available to 
others upon request. In addition, the report will be available at no 
charge on the GAO Web site at http://www.gao.gov.

If you have any questions about this report, please contact me at (202) 
512-2834. Individuals making key contributions to this report included 
Colin J. Fallon, Bert Japikse, Jane S. Kim, Victoria E. Miller, John W. 
Mingus Jr., Thomas M. Phan, Maria J. Santos, Michael J. Simon, and 
Robert E. White.

Peter F. Guerrero 
Director 
Physical Infrastructure Issues:

Signed by Peter F. Guerrero: 

[End of section]

Appendixes:

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology:

We used a combination of approaches and methodologies to examine (1) 
recent steps taken by industry and government to improve the safety and 
security of hazardous materials transported by rail, (2) issues 
pertaining to the safety and security of rail transport of hazardous 
materials that, in the opinion of the hazardous material experts, 
remain unresolved, and (3) the preparedness of local jurisdictions to 
respond to rail incidents involving hazardous materials. We completed 
interviews with regulatory officials and representatives of private 
industry, analyses of hazardous material volume and incident data, and 
case study interviews with local officials.

To obtain the views of experts on the safety and security of rail 
transportation of hazardous materials, we sponsored a 1-day panel 
through the National Academy of Sciences that brought together 
representatives from academia, industry, and local government. The 
views of panel members were used to identify issues and perspectives on 
the current system, policies, and practices for transporting hazardous 
materials by rail. Specifically, we asked the panel members to discuss 
their opinions on: (1) the effectiveness of current industry policies 
for the safe and secure shipment of hazardous materials by rail, (2) 
the effectiveness of current federal regulatory and assistance 
programs, and (3) suggestions for improved industry and government 
cooperation. Their views served to support our identification of issues 
that still remain to be addressed in ensuring the safety and security 
of hazardous materials shipped by rail.

We did our work at 10 federal agencies, several private organizations 
representing the railroad and chemical industries and emergency 
responders, private rail companies, and state and local government 
agencies in 10 locations nationwide. A complete list of the agencies 
and organizations visited and contacted follows. We do not list the 
local community case study locations that we visited because of the 
sensitive nature of our review in light of homeland security concerns.

Organizations Visited and Contacted:


Cabinet Departments:

* Department of Defense, Washington, D.C.; and Fort Eustis, Virginia:

* Department of Energy, Washington, D.C.; and Albuquerque, New Mexico:

* Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C.

* Department of Homeland Security (including the Transportation 
Security Administration, U.S. Coast Guard, Directorate of Emergency 
Preparedness and Response), Washington, D.C.

* Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.

* Department of Transportation (including the Federal Railroad 
Administration and the Research and Special Programs Administration), 
Washington, D.C.

* Department of Labor, Washington, D.C.

Other Agencies:

* Environmental Protection Agency, Washington D.C.

* National Transportation Safety Board, Washington, D.C.

* Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Rockville, Maryland:

National Organizations:

* International Association of Chiefs of Police, Alexandria, Virginia:

* International Association of Emergency Managers, Falls Church, 
Virginia:

* International Association of Fire Chiefs, Fairfax, Virginia:

* International Association of Fire Fighters, Washington, D.C.

* National Emergency Management Association, Lexington, Kentucky:

* National Volunteer Fire Council, Washington, D.C.

Private Sector:

* American Chemistry Council, Arlington, Virginia:

* Association of American Railroads, Washington, D.C.

* American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, Washington, 
D.C.

* American Petroleum Institute, Washington, D.C.

* The Chlorine Institute, Washington, D.C.

* Dangerous Goods Advisory Council, Washington, D.C.

* CSX Transportation, various locations:

* Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad, various locations:

* Union Pacific Railroad, various locations.

To examine the current safety and security infrastructure of the rail 
industry, we conducted a series of interviews with agency officials, 
local first responders, railroad companies, and industry and trade 
groups. We then examined supporting documentation from these 
interviews, Department of Transportation databases, federal laws and 
regulations, and previous GAO findings. We also conducted site visits 
of rail facilities to record observations about security and safety 
practices.

To report on local jurisdictions' capability to respond to potential 
terrorist attacks or chemical accidents, we performed case studies of 
10 localities in the United States. We judgmentally selected two small 
cities, four medium-sized cities, and four large cities. The localities 
met at least one of following three criteria:

* had experienced a recent and significant rail incident involving 
hazardous materials,

* had a large population and flow of hazardous materials shipped 
through it by rail, and/or:

* had a small population and large flow of hazardous materials shipped 
through it by rail.

We obtained locations of recent and significant hazardous material 
incidents by researching available reports and information from the 
National Transportation Safety Board. We analyzed the Surface 
Transportation Board's carload Waybill Sample, an annual stratified 
sample of national rail flows within the United States, to determine 
flows of hazardous materials by rail.[Footnote 26] To estimate carload 
and tonnage data, we also used the Waybill Sample. We analyzed the 
waybill origin and destination data using the Department of Energy's 
Transportation Routing Analysis Geographic Information System to 
identify localities with a high level of hazardous material flows. We 
reviewed documentation provided with the waybill sample and the data we 
received from the sample, and determined that these data were 
sufficiently accurate for our purposes.

To obtain information about our case study localities and their 
preparedness to respond to incidents involving rail transportation of 
hazardous materials, we interviewed officials from city government 
agencies such as the fire, police, public works, transportation, 
emergency management, and public health departments. We also 
interviewed local emergency planning committees and state environmental 
and emergency response agencies. In addition, we obtained and examined 
supporting documentation from interviews with local officials as part 
of the study. As discussed in the report, no standardized tool exists 
to gauge the preparedness of a community for a hazardous material 
incident.

The report encompasses all aspects of rail transport of hazardous 
materials, including loading, unloading, and storage, as well as the 
time these materials spend in motion. This report uses the definition 
of hazardous materials in federal hazardous material transportation 
law, which includes flammable and radioactive materials.[Footnote 27] 
Although some hazardous materials enter the United States overland by 
rail from Canada and Mexico, this report does not address issues that 
may be associated with international shipments. Further, this report 
does not directly address issues associated with computer security and 
possible cyber attacks.

[End of section]

Appendix II: Oversight of Rail Shipments of Hazardous Materials by the 
Department of Transportation and Other Federal Agencies:

In addition to the Department of Transportation (DOT), several federal 
agencies have authority over certain aspects of rail shipments of 
hazardous materials. These include the Department of Homeland Security 
(DHS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Labor's 
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission (NRC), Department of Energy (DOE), and Department 
of Defense (DOD).

DOT and DHS Oversee Rail Safety and Security:

Two administrations within DOT--the Research and Special Programs 
Administration (RSPA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)--have 
responsibilities for developing regulations pertaining to the 
transportation of hazardous materials and rail safety. Under the 
Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Department of Transportation shares 
responsibility with the Transportation Security Administration, within 
DHS, for rail security.[Footnote 28]

RSPA is responsible for discharging the responsibilities of the 
Secretary of Transportation under federal hazardous material 
transportation law to identify and regulate the transportation of 
materials that may pose an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and 
property when transported in commerce. RSPA develops hazardous material 
regulations, coordinating its work with other DOT administrations, 
including FRA. These regulations specify how shipments must be 
identified, packaged, and handled in transit. RSPA also sets hazardous 
material transportation training requirements, helps enforce the 
hazardous material regulations, and funds hazardous material emergency 
preparedness grants to assist localities. RSPA has the authority to 
pursue civil and criminal penalties for deliberate violations of 
hazardous material transportation regulations, focusing primarily on 
packaging standards and shippers of hazardous materials. According to 
RSPA officials, RSPA conducts some, but not many, radioactive material 
inspections.

FRA oversees the safety of track, signal and train controls, motive 
power and equipment, operating practices, highway-rail grade crossing 
safety, and hazardous materials. To ensure compliance with railroad 
safety regulations, FRA conducts thousands of inspections annually in 
these six areas. FRA has several enforcement tools, such as civil and 
criminal penalties, if railroad companies do not comply with safety 
regulations.

For the shipment of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive 
materials, FRA has developed a safety compliance and oversight plan to 
examine the safety and security of prospective shipping routes, rail 
crews, and equipment prior to shipment of these materials and to 
provide an additional level of inspection for such shipments. To ensure 
the safety and security of these shipments, FRA performs several 
procedures such as inspections of rail cars and locomotives and 
coordination with federal intelligence and local law enforcement 
agencies to identify where shipments could be stored temporarily en 
route if needed. FRA, in conjunction with the Association of American 
Railroads, DOE, and rail representatives, is updating its safety 
compliance and oversight plan to address security concerns related to 
terrorism.

Within DHS, TSA, created in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist 
attacks of September 11, 2001, has focused primarily on aviation 
issues, but it is responsible for the security of all modes of 
transportation, including rail. Though originally a part of DOT, TSA 
became a part of DHS, along with 22 other agencies in an effort to 
better coordinate the federal government's resources to prevent and 
protect the United States from domestic terrorism. In addition, the 
U.S. Coast Guard has the responsibility for preventing spills from 
vessels and waterfront facilities. The Coast Guard also serves as the 
federal on scene coordinator under the National Contingency Plan for 
oil or hazardous substance releases in the coastal zone.

EPA Oversees Fixed Facilities That Handle Hazardous Materials:

EPA has authority for implementing and enforcing legislation governing 
the protection of public health and the environment against chemical 
and other polluting discharges and for abating and controlling 
pollution when spills occur. The regulatory focus of EPA's Chemical 
Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office is on fixed facilities, 
such as chemical factories, that handle large quantities of hazardous 
materials. Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act 
of 1986,[Footnote 29] EPA helps coordinate preparedness among federal, 
state, and local emergency responders. The purpose of this act is to 
encourage and provide support for emergency planning efforts at the 
state and local levels and provide the public and local governments 
information concerning potential chemical hazards present in their 
communities. As part of its responsibilities under this act, EPA 
identifies substances and quantities that qualify as extremely 
hazardous. EPA has also provided training and technical assistance to 
states and localities to enhance contingency planning and emergency 
response capabilities. Under the Clean Air Act,[Footnote 30] as 
amended, EPA implements a risk management program that requires 
stationary chemical facilities to prevent and mitigate accidental 
releases of extremely hazardous chemicals. EPA also has 
responsibilities concerning oil spills. EPA's Office of Air and 
Radiation sometimes participates with other agencies in responding to 
hazardous material transportation incidents involving radioactive 
materials.

OSHA Focuses on the Safety of Plant Workers and Emergency Responders:

The Occupational Safety and Health Act, administered by OSHA, requires 
employers, including chemical and railroad companies, to provide safe 
workplaces. It requires that OSHA promulgate standards to protect the 
safety and health of employees. Additionally, the statute and 
implementing regulations require employers to, among other things, 
inform employees about potential hazards, provide safety training, keep 
records of workplace injuries, notify government administrators of 
serious accidents, and post notices informing workers about their 
rights to complain about safety and health violations. OSHA establishes 
hazardous material training and safety requirements for emergency 
responders through its general industry standards, including its 
hazardous waste operations and emergency response standard.

NRC and DOE Oversee Shipments of Nuclear Material:

Although DOT regulates the transportation of nuclear material, 
including spent fuel, as hazardous material, NRC also regulates the 
transportation of nuclear material by its licensees. The primary role 
of NRC, under a memorandum of agreement with DOT, is the establishment 
of packaging standards for fissile materials and for other radioactive 
materials exceeding certain limits. NRC certifies spent fuel casks and 
other radioactive material package designs that meet these standards 
and requires its licensees to use certified casks for transport. NRC 
also plays a significant role through safety and security requirements 
and through inspection and enforcement.

The responsibilities of DOE regarding spent nuclear fuel are related to 
its role as an operator of nuclear facilities, including its role in 
developing the proposed Yucca Mountain Repository. DOE's Office of 
Civilian Radioactive Waste Management is responsible for shipping spent 
nuclear fuel and oversees nuclear waste fund activities related to the 
Yucca Mountain Repository, which include the transportation of spent 
nuclear fuel. The shipping is done in accordance with NRC packaging and 
advance notification requirements and DOT's hazardous material 
regulations. Both DOE and NRC have authority to approve packages, such 
as casks as suitable for transport under the hazardous material 
regulations, NRC's rule for the packaging and transportation of 
radioactive material,[Footnote 31] and the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, 
as amended.[Footnote 32] DOE's authority is for defense or DOE-owned 
materials, while NRC's authority is for shipments by its licensees. In 
addition, DOE's Office of Environmental Management coordinates policies 
and program implementation for shipments of environmental radioactive 
waste for DOE, coordinating its operations with DOT. NRC also performs 
inspections to determine whether companies that transport radiological 
materials take appropriate safety measures to package these materials. 
For the transportation of spent nuclear fuel, NRC performs inspections 
of shipments by its licensees to ensure that this material is 
physically protected against acts of sabotage.

DOD Oversees the Safety and Security of Military Hazardous Material 
Shipments:

DOD's Military Traffic Management Command, which oversees the shipments 
of DOD hazardous materials by rail companies and ensures that they are 
shipped according to DOD's safety and security standards, requires that 
everyone participating in the shipment of hazardous materials comply 
with the hazardous material regulations. This includes compliance with 
requirements for labeling, placarding, and transportation. DOD also 
requires inspections for sensitive shipments, including hazardous 
materials, to be conducted by railroad police officers, trained 
railroad employees, or members of private security firms under contract 
to DOD.

:

[End of section]

Appendix III: Annual Hazardous Material Rail Shipments in the United 
States:

Millions of tons of hazardous materials are shipped yearly on a 
170,000-mile rail network that crisscrosses the continental United 
States. The Class I railroads, the largest of the railroad companies, 
operate more than 120,000 miles of this road.[Footnote 33] The rail 
network touches every major urban center and hundreds of smaller 
communities in between. While the vast majority of shipments arrive 
safely at their destination, serious incidents involving these 
materials have the potential to cause widespread disruption or injury. 
In July 2001, the derailment of a CSX Transportation train in an 
underground tunnel and the ensuing fire fueled by hazardous materials 
disrupted the city of Baltimore, Maryland, for several days. In January 
2002, a Canadian Pacific Railway derailment outside Minot, North 
Dakota, ruptured seven tank cars carrying anhydrous ammonia, creating a 
vapor plume approximately 5 miles long and 2 ˝ miles wide. The 
hazardous material release affected approximately 15,000 people, 
causing one death and more than 300 injuries.

Department of Transportation Categorizes Hazardous Materials by Nine 
Classes:

The Department of Transportation's (DOT) hazardous material regulations 
classify hazardous materials into nine hazard classes. Among other 
things, the classification system helps communicate the hazards of 
these materials to emergency responders and transportation workers. The 
nine classes of hazardous materials are:

* Class 1, explosives;

* Class 2, gases;

* Class 3, flammable liquids;

* Class 4, flammable and solids;

* Class 5, oxidizing substances and organic peroxides;

* Class 6, poisonous and infectious substances;

* Class 7, radioactive materials;

* Class 8, corrosives; and:

* Class 9, miscellaneous materials.

Some of these nine classes are further divided into subclasses to 
denote different hazards. For example, Class 2 is divided into three 
divisions: 2.1, flammable gases; 2.2, nonflammable, nonpoisonous 
compressed gases; and 2.3, poison gases. Any hazardous materials that 
are properly packaged and labeled and suitable for transportation by 
rail are eligible for shipment on any class of railroad track.

Overall Volume of Rail Shipments of Hazardous Materials for Rail, 
Truck, and Water are Similar by Ton-mile:

DOT estimates that there are over 800,000 shipments of hazardous 
materials daily by all modes of transportation in quantities varying 
from several ounces to many thousands of gallons. For comprehensive 
data related to flows of hazardous materials for all modes of 
transportation, DOT and the Department of Commerce jointly conduct the 
Commodity Flow Survey (CFS). To examine the flow across modes, we used 
data from the 1997 CFS, the most recently completed survey. We reviewed 
the published methodology and determined that the data were 
sufficiently accurate for our purposes.

The 1997 CFS data, shown in table 2, estimated that approximately 97 
million tons of hazardous materials were shipped by rail during that 
year, fourth among all modes behind truck, water, and pipeline. 
However, rail-transported commodities travel a far greater average 
distance, with the result that the shipments by ton-mile for rail, 
truck, and water are similar.

Peter F. Guerrero 

While the 1997 CFS provides the most recent comprehensive data across 
modes, total tonnage shipped on rail can also be obtained through 
analysis of Waybill Sample data. Figure 3 shows tons of hazardous 
materials shipped by rail for 1998-2001 based on Waybill Sample data.

Figure 3: Tons of Hazardous Materials Shipped by Rail, 1998-2001:

[See PDF for image]

Note: Estimates from the Waybill Sample have sampling errors associated 
with them. The 95 percent confidence level associated with the 1998 
estimate of approximately 95 million tons ranges from approximately 93 
million tons to approximately 97 million tons. Except as noted in the 
text, all percentage estimates have sampling errors not exceeding plus 
or minus 5 percentage points, and all numerical estimates other than 
percentages have sampling errors not exceeding 5 percent of the value 
of those estimates.

[End of figure]

Rail Shipments Represent a Much Higher Share of Volume for Some 
Hazardous Material Classes:

When data from the 1997 CFS is examined according to hazard classes and 
across transportation modes, it becomes clear that, despite accounting 
for only 6 percent of the overall hazardous material tonnage and 27 
percent of ton-miles, rail has a much higher share for other hazard 
classes for which data are available. The reason for this divergence is 
the predominance of flammable liquids, such as gasoline and diesel 
fuel, in hazardous material shipments.[Footnote 34] When the 
commodities are looked at individually, the large role that rail plays 
in shipping other hazardous materials becomes apparent. For example, 
rail moves 55 percent of Class 4, flammable solids, and 31 percent of 
Class 6, toxic materials.

If volume data are further separated by division within hazard class, 
the prevalence of rail as a shipment mode for some specific 
subcategories of materials comes into even sharper focus. For example, 
as shown in table 3, 59 percent of the tonnage of toxic-by-inhalation 
gases moves by rail, representing 95 percent of the ton-miles of these 
gases.

Table 3: Rail Shipments as Percentage of Hazardous Material Shipments 
by All Transportation Modes by Hazard Class and Division, 1997:

Class[A]: 1-Explosives: 

Class[A]: Division: 1-Explosives: 1.1; 1-Explosives: Hazard 
division[A]: 1-Explosives: Explosives with a mass explosion hazard; 
Tons (thousands): N/A; Tons (percent): N/A; Ton-miles (millions): N/A; 
Ton-miles (percent): N/A.

Class[A]: Division: 1-Explosives: 1.2; 1-Explosives: Hazard 
division[A]: 1-Explosives: Explosives with a projection hazard; Tons 
(thousands): < 1; Tons (percent): < 1%; Ton-miles (millions): < 1; Ton-
miles (percent): < 1%.

Class[A]: Division: 1-Explosives: 1.3; 1-Explosives: Hazard 
division[A]: 1-Explosives: Explosives with predominantly a fire hazard; 
Tons (thousands): < 1; Tons (percent): < 1%; Ton-miles (millions): < 1; 
Ton-miles (percent): < 1%.

Class[A]: Division: 1-Explosives: 1.4; 1-Explosives: Hazard 
division[A]: 1-Explosives: Explosives with no significant blast hazard; 
Tons (thousands): N/A; Tons (percent): N/A; Ton-miles (millions): N/A; 
Ton-miles (percent): N/A.

Class[A]: Division: 1-Explosives: 1.5; 1-Explosives: Hazard 
division[A]: 1-Explosives: Very insensitive explosives, blasting 
agents; Tons (thousands): < 1; Tons (percent): < 1%; Ton-miles 
(millions): < 1; Ton-miles (percent): < 1%.

Class[A]: 2-Gases; Tons (thousands): 15,203; Tons (percent): 13%; Ton-
miles (millions): 11,447; Ton-miles (percent): 52%.

Class[A]: Division: 1-Explosives: 2.1; 1-Explosives: Hazard 
division[A]: 1-Explosives: Flammable gases; Tons (thousands): 6,362; 
Tons (percent): 10%; Ton-miles (millions): 4,671; Ton-miles (percent): 
50%.

Class[A]: Division: 1-Explosives: 2.2; 1-Explosives: Hazard 
division[A]: 1-Explosives: Nonflammable, nontoxic compressed gases; 
Tons (thousands): 3,075; Tons (percent): 8%; Ton-miles (millions): 
1,836; Ton-miles (percent): 25%.

Class[A]: Division: 1-Explosives: 2.3; 1-Explosives: Hazard 
division[A]: 1-Explosives: Gases toxic by inhalation; Tons (thousands): 
5,766; Tons (percent): 59%; Ton-miles (millions): 4,940; Ton-miles 
(percent): 95%.

Class[A]: 3-Flammable liquids; Tons (thousands): 26,642; Tons 
(percent): 2%; Ton-miles (millions): 19,548; Ton-miles (percent): 12%.

Class[A]: 4-Flammable solids; Tons (thousands): 6,477; Tons (percent): 
55%; Ton-miles (millions): 8,639; Ton-miles (percent): 90%.

Class[A]: Division: 1-Explosives: 4.1; 1-Explosives: Hazard 
division[A]: 1-Explosives: Flammable solids; Tons (thousands): 5,904; 
Tons (percent): 58%; Ton-miles (millions): 7,815; Ton-miles (percent): 
93%.

Class[A]: Division: 1-Explosives: 4.2; 1-Explosives: Hazard 
division[A]: 1-Explosives: Spontaneously combustible materials; Tons 
(thousands): 390; Tons (percent): 46%; Ton-miles (millions): 613; Ton-
miles (percent): 82%.

Class[A]: Division: 1-Explosives: 4.3; 1-Explosives: Hazard 
division[A]: 1-Explosives: Dangerous when wet materials; Tons 
(thousands): 183; Tons (percent): 22%; Ton-miles (millions): 211; Ton-
miles (percent): 50%.

Class[A]: 5-Oxidizers and organic peroxides; Tons (thousands): 3,182; 
Tons (percent): 34%; Ton-miles (millions): 2,820; Ton-miles (percent): 
63%.

Class[A]: 6-Toxic (poison); Tons (thousands): 1,949; Tons (percent): 
31%; Ton-miles (millions): 1,446; Ton-miles (percent): 51%.

Class[A]: 7-Radioactive materials; Tons (thousands): N/A; Tons 
(percent): N/A; Ton-miles (millions): N/A; Ton-miles (percent): N/A.

Class[A]: 8-Corrosive materials; Tons (thousands): 24,427; Tons 
(percent): 27%; Ton-miles (millions): 16,998; Ton-miles (percent): 41%.

Class[A]: 9-Miscellaneous dangerous goods; Tons (thousands): 18,334; 
Tons (percent): 28%; Ton-miles (millions): 13,064; Ton-miles (percent): 
58%.

Class[A]: Total; Tons (thousands): 96,626; Tons (percent): 6%; Ton-
miles (millions): 74,711; Ton-miles (percent): 28%.

Legend:

N/A = Data do not meet publication standards because of high sampling 
variability or other reasons.

Source: GAO analysis of DOT data.

[A] The 1997 CFS uses different names for hazard classes than DOT 
currently uses.

[End of table]

Poisonous Inhalation Hazardous Materials Were Among the Ten Most 
Commonly Shipped Hazardous Materials from 1998 to 2001:

The quantities of specific chemicals shipped by rail can be determined 
by analyzing the Waybill Sample data. Table 4 shows the top 20 
materials shipped by rail from 1998 to 2001 and the average number of 
carloads shipped annually during this period. Nonbulk cargoes such as 
freight forwarder traffic and freight rate shipments, both of which may 
consist of mixed materials, were the top two types of hazardous 
materials shipped. The top bulk hazardous material cargoes can be in 
the form of solids, liquids, or liquefied gases, and include flammable, 
corrosive, and toxic hazardous materials. Poison-by-inhalation 
hazardous materials, such as ammonia and chlorine, are in the top 10 
carloads shipped for this time period.

Table 4:  The Top 20 Hazardous Materials Shipped by Rail by Volume, 
1998-2001:

Hazardous materials: 1. Freight forwarder traffic[B]; Estimated total  
carloads[A]: 1,188,109; Estimated average annual number of carloads: 
297,027.

Hazardous materials: 2. All freight rate shipments, not elsewhere coded 
(NEC), or trailer on flat car shipments, commercial, except where 
identified by commodity; Estimated total carloads[A]: 716,177; 
Estimated average annual number of carloads: 179,044.

Hazardous materials: 3. Sulfur liquid or molten nonmetallic minerals 
except fuels; Estimated total: carloads[A]: 273,005; Estimated average 
annual number of carloads: 68,251.

Hazardous materials: 4. Liquefied petroleum gas, NEC, compressed; 
Estimated total carloads[A]: 253,234; Estimated average annual number 
of carloads: 63,308.

Hazardous materials: 5. Sodium (soda), caustic (sodium hydroxide); 
Estimated total carloads[A]: 236,455; Estimated average annual number 
of carloads: 59,114.

Hazardous materials: 6. Asphalt pitches or tars, from petroleum, coal 
tar, coke oven, or natural gas; Estimated total carloads[A]: 222,163; 
Estimated average annual number of carloads: 55,541.

Hazardous materials: 7. Sulfuric acid or oil of vitriol; Estimated: 
total: carloads[A]: 200,875; Estimated average annual number of 
carloads: 50,219.

Hazardous materials: 8. Ammonia, anhydrous; Estimated total 
carloads[A]: 163,057; Estimated average annual number of carloads: 
40,764.

Hazardous materials: 9. Chlorine gas, liquefied; Estimated total 
carloads[A]: 128,600; Estimated average annual number of carloads: 
32,150.

Hazardous materials: 10. Gasolines, blended, consisting of motor fuels 
containing 50% or more of gasolines[C]; Estimated total carloads[A]: 
97,192; Estimated average annual number of carloads: 24,298.

Hazardous materials: 11. Ethyl alcohol, anhydrous denatured in part 
with petroleum products and/or chemicals (not to exceed 5%); Estimated: 
total: carloads[A]: 95,333; Estimated average annual number of 
carloads: 23,833.

Hazardous materials: 12. Phosphatic fertilizer solution, containing not 
more than 77% of phosphoric anhydride by weight; Estimated total 
carloads[A]: 90,779; Estimated average annual number of carloads: 
22,695.

Hazardous materials: 13. Chemicals, NEC; Estimated total carloads[A]: 
86,854; Estimated average annual number of carloads: 21,713.

Hazardous materials: 14. Vinyl chloride (chloroethane or 
chloroethylene); Estimated total carloads[A]: 73,033; Estimated 
average annual number of carloads: 18,258.

Hazardous materials: 15. Methanol (methyl or wood alcohol) liquid; 
Estimated total carloads[A]: 67,903; Estimated average annual number 
of carloads: 16,976.

Hazardous materials: 16. Propane gas, liquefied; Estimated total 
carloads[A]: 65,702; Estimated average annual number of carloads: 
16,425.

Hazardous materials: 17. Carbon dioxide gas, liquefied, or carbonic 
acid gas; Estimated total carloads[A]: 63,020; Estimated average 
annual number of carloads: 15,755.

Hazardous materials: 18. Ammonium nitrate fertilizer; Estimated total 
carloads[A]: 62,563; Estimated average annual number of carloads: 
15,641.

Hazardous materials: 19. Muriatic (hydrochloric) acid; Estimated: 
total: carloads[A]: 58,165; Estimated average annual number of 
carloads: 14,541.

Hazardous materials: 20. Styrene (liquid); Estimated total 
carloads[A]: 55,910; Estimated average annual number of carloads: 
13,977.

Source: GAO analysis of DOT data.

[A] Because the waybill sample data is extrapolated from a 1 percent 
sample, there will be uncertainties associated with the totals in this 
table.

[B] Nonbulk shipments that may consist of mixed materials.

[C] The sampling error for this estimate is approximately 25 percent of 
the value of the estimate. The sampling errors for all other estimates 
in this table do not exceed 5 percent of the value of those estimates.

[End of table]

Rail Shipments of Radioactive and Military Hazardous Materials 
Represent a Small Fraction of All Rail Shipments of Hazardous 
Materials:

Rail shipments of radioactive and military hazardous materials are few 
compared with overall rail shipments of hazardous materials. Through 
its Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC), the Department of 
Defense (DOD) contracts with U.S. rail companies for the shipment of 
arms, ammunition, explosives, and other hazardous materials. The 
Department of the Navy and the Department of Energy (DOE) each ship 
radioactive material, including high-level spent nuclear fuel.

DOD Hazardous Materials Rail Shipments Include Arms, Ammunition, 
Explosives, Spent Nuclear Fuel, and Other Materials:

From 1997 to 2001, MTMC shipped 728,000 tons of hazardous materials by 
rail, which represents a very small percentage of the 459 million tons 
of all hazardous materials shipped by rail during this time period. 
Although some DOD hazardous materials are shipped on dedicated trains, 
more often they are shipped in one-or two-car shipments and attached to 
trains with other nonmilitary cargoes. The dedicated shipments are 
usually done in conjunction with a planned exercise where a large 
amount of materials are needed.

The Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, a joint organization within both 
the Department of Navy and Energy, ships naval spent nuclear fuel from 
shipyards to DOE's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental 
Laboratory for examination and temporary storage. According to program 
data, spent nuclear fuel from nuclear-powered warships accounts for 
approximately 0.05 percent of all spent nuclear fuel in the United 
States. From 1957 to 2001, the program shipped 738 containers of 
radioactive material without a harmful release of radiation. According 
to the Department of the Navy, naval reactor components are designed 
robustly to withstand combat conditions.

DOE Ships Radioactive Waste Materials from Its Own Operations by Rail:

DOE ships its own radioactive waste material shipments, including low-
level radioactive material, transuranic waste, and spent nuclear 
fuel.[Footnote 35] Within DOE, the Office of Environmental Management 
coordinates policies and program implementation for shipments of 
environmental radioactive waste. DOE's Office of Civilian Radioactive 
Waste Management would have responsibility for the proposed shipments 
to the Yucca Mountain Repository. Shipments made under the Office of 
Environmental Management are currently made mostly by truck; however, 
DOE is exploring the possibility of increasing rail shipments in the 
future. DOE officials estimate that of the approximately 500 shipments 
a month of low-level radioactive material made by DOE, less than 1 
percent are made by rail.

Volume of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel Shipments Is Expected to 
Increase Substantially if the Yucca Mountain Repository Is Approved:

According to Nuclear Regulatory Commission statistics, approximately 2 
million pounds of spent nuclear fuel were transported by rail in the 
United States between 1979 and 1996. These amounts will increase 
greatly if a proposed private fuel storage facility in Utah is licensed 
for operation and will increase again if the proposed Yucca Mountain 
Repository is approved. Total shipments of spent nuclear fuel to the 
private fuel storage facility are estimated to be 88 million pounds, 
and the estimated total shipment to Yucca Mountain is 154 million 
pounds over a 24-year period. All the shipments to the private fuel 
storage facility would be by rail, while shipments to Yucca Mountain 
will be by both rail and truck.

[End of section]

Appendix IV: Safety and Security Issues Posed by Possible Future Rail 
Shipments of Spent Nuclear Fuel:

Proposed Private Fuel Storage and Yucca Mountain Repository Plans Will 
Result in Substantial Increases in Rail Shipment of Radioactive 
Materials:

If the proposed Yucca Mountain Repository in Nevada is licensed and 
begins operation, the number of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) shipments by 
rail would greatly increase in the future. Even without the operation 
of Yucca Mountain, there may be a substantial increase in the shipment 
of SNF from private efforts to ship and temporarily store SNF.

The most common method for storing SNF is in dry or wet fuel storage 
facilities on-site at nuclear plants. Some plants, however, are 
concerned about reaching full capacity for storage on-site and the 
ongoing expense associated with this type of storage. Under the Nuclear 
Waste Fund provision of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, the 
operators of nuclear plants have been paying fees for a fund maintained 
by the Department of Energy (DOE) to pay for the proper disposal of SNF 
in a national repository,[Footnote 36] proposed for Yucca 
Mountain.[Footnote 37] To date, operators have not been able to ship 
any of their spent fuel off-site to the repository.

To address SNF on-site storage capacity issues, private power companies 
with more than one nuclear plant may ship SNF by rail from one plant to 
the storage facility of another if available storage capacity exists. 
Such intrautility transfers have constituted most commercial spent fuel 
shipments in the past. According to Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) 
statistics, 1,057 metric tons of SNF were commercially transported by 
rail in the United States between 1979 and 1996 in 147 separate 
shipments. According to NRC data, no radioactive releases above the 
regulatory limit have occurred during any of these shipments. Table 5 
shows the total metric tons and shipments of commercial spent nuclear 
fuel transported by rail and truck from 1979 to 1996.

Table 5: Transport of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel, 1979-1996:

Mode: Rail; Metric tons: of spent fuel: 1,057; Shipments: 147; Average 
metric: tons per shipment: 7.2.

Mode: Truck; Metric tons: of spent fuel: 356; Shipments: 1,172; Average 
metric: tons per shipment: 0.3.

Mode: Total; Metric tons: of spent fuel: 1,413; Shipments: 1,319; 
Average metric: tons per shipment: 1.1.

Source: Congressional Research Service.

[End of table]

DOE Estimates That 70,000 Metric Tons of SNF Would Be Shipped to the 
Proposed Yucca Mountain National Repository over a 24-Year Period:

The proposed Yucca Mountain Repository in Nevada would be the largest 
to hold SNF in the country. Although the repository is not yet 
licensed, and would not be scheduled to begin operations until 2010, 
studies and preparations for these shipments have been under way for 
some time. According to DOE's Environmental Impact Statement for Yucca 
Mountain, approximately 70,000 metric tons of SNF would be shipped to 
the repository over a 24-year period. DOE officials currently favor the 
use of trains versus trucks as the primary mode of transporting SNF to 
Yucca Mountain. This decision, however, has not been finalized. The use 
of rail would require fewer overall shipments than the use of trucks 
due to the larger transport capacity of trains. If trains are chosen as 
the primary mode of transportation for SNF to Yucca Mountain, DOE 
estimates that, on average, 130 trains carrying approximately 400 casks 
would transport SNF every year for 24 years.[Footnote 38] A rail 
shipment may include up to three rail casks.

If trains were to be used, a new rail line would need to be constructed 
to connect the repository to main line railroad tracks. The rail line 
would be approximately 100 to 300 miles in length depending on the 
corridor selected. In addition, specific routes for SNF shipments would 
also have to be selected. Finally, DOE would have to determine whether 
or not to use dedicated trains to make these shipments.

Association of American Railroads Endorses the Use of Dedicated Trains 
for SNF Shipments to Yucca Mountain:

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has endorsed the use of 
dedicated trains for shipments of SNF to Yucca Mountain. Dedicated 
trains would allow shipments to travel from origin to destination as 
quickly as possible, thereby minimizing exposure en route and time 
spent in rail yards. AAR's position is that advanced technology that is 
not routinely used in regular trains, such as that used for derailment 
prevention, could be incorporated in a dedicated train. The Department 
of Transportation (DOT) is currently drafting a report on the safety of 
using dedicated trains for the rail shipment of spent nuclear fuel.

Proposed Shipment of Spent Nuclear Fuel by Private Fuel Storage, LLC, 
Would Also Result in a Substantial Increase in Shipments:

In order to gain additional storage capacity for SNF, a consortium of 
eight private utility companies, called Private Fuel Storage (PFS), 
LLC, working with the Skull Valley Band of the Goshute tribe, is 
pursuing a storage facility on tribal land. The Goshute reservation is 
located approximately 50 miles west of Salt Lake City, Utah. This 
proposed storage facility would also result in a substantial increase 
in SNF shipments.

If licensed, the facility would receive up to 40,000 tons of SNF for 
storage. Unlike the Yucca Mountain repository, the PFS facility would 
be a temporary storage site rather than a permanent repository. An NRC 
license to store SNF lasts 20 years and is renewable. After the license 
expires, the facility would be decommissioned and the material taken 
off of the reservation. If the Yucca Mountain repositorywere in 
operation at that time, Yucca Mountain would be the likely recipient of 
this material. Provisions would need to be made to safely transport 
material to and from the Goshute Reservation.[Footnote 39]

PFS anticipates receiving one to two trains weekly, each carrying two 
to four shipping casks containing 10 metric tons of uranium. Dedicated 
trains, stopping only for crew changes, refueling, and periodic 
inspections, would ship the material. A 32-mile rail line would be 
constructed by PFS on federal government owned land to connect the 
facility with the nearest railroad.

Historically Low Spent Nuclear Fuel Shipment Volumes Make Risk 
Assessment from Increased Shipments Difficult:

It is difficult to assess the risk from the shipment of SNF using 
historic data, since the SNF shipments to date amount to only a small 
fraction of those proposed for shipment to the Yucca Mountain 
Repository and PFS. The 1,057 metric tons of spent fuel that was 
shipped by rail between 1979 and 1996 is small compared to proposed 
shipments to the Yucca Mountain Repository and PFS.

Even though no harmful radiation releases have occurred in past 
shipments of SNF, several questions still remain regarding the 
potential risk posed by these shipments, including:

* whether the past safety record is indicative of potential future 
accidents given the difference in volume of materials shipped,

* what type of potential release is possible given cask design and 
proposed shipping practices, and:

* what harm could be done by attacks on SNF shipments.

In addressing concerns about the potential for future accidents given 
the expected increase in spent nuclear fuel shipments, NRC officials 
told us that they believe that historical transport data for accident 
rates, in general, and for spent fuel shipments, in particular, support 
the conclusion that current regulatory programs result in a high degree 
of safety, even if applied to a larger shipment campaign. The officials 
said that NRC has sponsored risk studies that address the potential 
impacts related to changes in shipment parameters for future shipments 
to a waste facility.[Footnote 40] They said that they believe there is 
an adequate technical basis to conclude current shipments are safe and 
that future compliant shipments will be safe.

Studies Suggest That There is a Low Probability of Accidental Release 
of Radiation during Transportation of Spent Nuclear Fuel:

Past federal studies have examined risks to the safety of the shipment 
of SNF and suggest that there is a low probability of accidental 
release of radiation during its transportation. To address safety 
issues associated with the shipment of SNF, NRC sponsored a series of 
studies to develop a predictive model of shipment risk. These include a 
study conducted by the Livermore National Laboratory. In addition, we 
convened a National Academy of Sciences panel of rail industry experts 
to identify issues involved in the safe and secure transport of 
hazardous materials by rail, including SNF.

Livermore National Laboratory Study:

The Livermore National Laboratory "Modal Study," completed in 1987 and 
updated in 1995, concluded that 99.8 percent of all accidents involving 
SNF would not result in a harmful release of radiation. The Livermore 
Study relied on existing accident data to develop:

* accident rates for trains and trucks,

* a distribution of accident speeds, and:

* a distribution of types of accidents.

All of these data were then applied against the structural 
characteristics of SNF shipment casks to determine whether the type of 
accident described would result in a harmful release of radiation.

The Livermore Study is consistent with Research and Special Programs 
Administration data, which indicate that less than 0.10 percent of all 
current carloads of hazardous materials are involved in an accident 
that causes a release of hazardous material. This study also examined 
the effects of four severe scenarios derived from actual transportation 
accidents and concluded that in only one of the scenarios, which 
included an engulfing fire lasting several days, would the casks have 
failed to prevent package radiation levels from exceeding NRC limits.

The state of Nevada sponsored an assessment of the Livermore Study 
criticizing its findings on several counts. According to the 
assessment, (1) the methodology for deriving the accident rates may not 
have considered all the potential causes for cask failure, (2) the 
study does not take into consideration the possibility for human error 
in SNF cask construction and the effects that this could have in the 
severity of an accident, and (3) the computer simulation used in the 
Livermore study did not account for all potential effects from high 
heat fires such as the breakdown of spent fuel pellets into gases or 
vapors.

In March 2000, NRC sponsored another study to update these earlier 
findings, entitled Re-examination of Spent Fuel Shipment Risk 
Estimates. The 2000 NRC study confirmed the results of an earlier 1977 
NRC study and quantified the expected risk of transporting SNF. The 
2000 study concluded that the rail accident risk was only 2 percent of 
the risk estimate in the prior study.

National Academy of Sciences Panel Expressed Confidence in the Safety 
and Security of Hazardous Material Rail Shipments:

Experts at the GAO-sponsored National Academy of Sciences panel on the 
safety and security of hazardous material rail shipments also expressed 
that the risks of the transport of SNF were low relative to the risks 
of transporting other hazardous materials. An AAR representative at the 
panel, for example, did not cite SNF when discussing the hazardous 
materials that are of special concern for security in shipment. Panel 
participants noted that radioactive and nuclear material has 
historically been a source of anxiety in the United States, and that 
this public perception makes the shipment of radioactive material seem 
more of a problem than it is. One panelist noted that, although an 
attack on radioactive material in transit would be sure to attract a 
lot of media attention, the hardness of the cask would minimize damage 
and the potential for a radiation release. In comparison with SNF, he 
noted, other materials have the potential for a much greater lethal 
effect. One panelist, an emergency first responder, stated that he 
would rather have SNF going through his town than a shipment of 
gasoline because of the strength of the SNF container.

DOE Rebuts Aspects of Study on Safety Issues Regarding the 
Transportation of SNF Casks:

In the aftermath of the July 2001 incident in the Howard Street Tunnel 
in Baltimore, Radioactive Waste Management Associates prepared a study 
that concluded that, had SNF casks been part of the train involved in 
that accident, the fire in the tunnel would have resulted in a release 
of contaminating radiation throughout a section of the city. This 
report stated that there are currently no requirements that SNF be 
transported separately from other hazardous cargo, and that the tunnel 
is part of a route identified as a potential rail corridor for SNF 
shipments, concluding that it is feasible that a cask could have been 
part of the burning train in the tunnel. DOE provided us with a 
criticism of the study prepared by staff from Sandia National 
Laboratory disputing the conclusions of the report. According to DOE 
officials, at least one buffer car must separate a SNF car from a car 
containing any hazardous materials. DOE officials said because of the 
separation of at least one car length and the slow, rather than 
catastrophic, leak of the tripropylene, the most intense fire heat 
would have been localized at the tripropylene car and not at adjacent 
cars.

In March 2003, NRC also released a report that examined the Baltimore 
tunnel fire incident and evaluated what the consequences would have 
been had a spent nuclear fuel transportation cask been in the train 
accident in the tunnel.[Footnote 41] NRC concluded in its report that, 
for a spent nuclear fuel transportation cask approved under NRC rules 
for packaging and transportation of radioactive materials[Footnote 42] 
and subjected to the conditions encountered in the Howard Street tunnel 
fire, no release of radioactive materials would have resulted from this 
postulated event. In addition, the health and safety of the public 
would have been maintained.

Safety and Security Issues Posed by the Substantial Increase in Future 
SNF Shipments and Potential New Threats for These Shipments Are Being 
Studied:

Since the 1970s, DOE and NRC have conducted several studies of the 
effect of sabotage on the transportation of SNF. These studies found 
that a successful sabotage attack on spent nuclear fuel being 
transported would have a limited effect on human health. A study 
published by DOE's Sandia National Laboratory in 1999 confirmed earlier 
studies that, under certain worst-case scenarios, NRC-certified 
transportation containers could be penetrated by armor-piercing weapons 
and release small quantities of radioactive materials.[Footnote 43] 
Nevertheless, despite their general confidence in the safety of current 
regulations for the transportation of spent nuclear fuel shipments, 
federal regulators are preparing to address new safety and security 
issues posed by the substantial increase in the number of these 
shipments in the future and new threats posed after the terrorist 
attacks on September 11, 2001. DOE's Sandia National Laboratory is 
currently conducting a cask sabotage investigation project. Upon its 
completion, DOE plans to use results of the project to support its 
decisions with regard to proposed SNF safeguard and security 
procedures. According to DOE, closer estimates of the consequence of a 
successful sabotage attack would support policy decisions relating to 
the safeguard levels required for SNF shipments, and a better-defined 
consequence might also be expected to reduce the cost of safeguards. 
DOE and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) are also reexamining 
the potential need for routing requirements for SNF rail shipments 
given the increase in the expected volume of shipments traveling 
through heavily populated rail corridors. NRC is also studying the 
potential vulnerabilities to the security of spent fuel and has ongoing 
work related to the performance of spent nuclear fuel containers in 
accident scenarios.

Finally, we are currently undertaking a study assessing the findings of 
federally-sponsored studies of sabotage and severe accidents involving 
spent nuclear fuel.

:

[End of section]

Appendix V: Emergency Response Procedures and Available Resources to 
Assist Local First Responders:

General Procedures for Emergency Response:

The recognized method for managing an emergency response is the 
incident command system, an on-site management system applicable to all 
types of emergencies. It includes a standard organizational structure, 
training requirements, procedures, and terminology that enable 
participating agencies to function together effectively and efficiently 
in response to an emergency. Hazardous material rail incidents involve 
a multidiscipline emergency management response approach. While the 
immediate response is primarily local, both state and federal 
governments also provide additional resources if the need arises.

Typically, at the local level, fire, law enforcement, public works, 
emergency medical service, and railroad personnel would be the first 
responders to a hazardous material rail incident. For these incidents, 
a locality's fire department is the lead agency in a hazardous material 
incident response. Within fire departments that have hazardous material 
teams, these teams lead the response to a hazardous material rail 
incident. Chemical experts or responders from private industry may 
provide additional response assistance.

In response to any suspected hazardous material incident, responders 
near or first arriving at the event do an initial reconnaissance to 
determine the materials involved and the need for additional resources. 
Initial responders determine if an evacuation or shelter in place is 
needed based on recommendations from the Emergency Response 
Guidebook.[Footnote 44] If hazardous material incidents are major 
events, the response would also include an activation of an emergency 
operations command center (if one is in place), the Red Cross, state 
environmental protection agencies, state emergency management agencies 
and, in some cases, federal agencies.

To prepare for responding to hazardous material incidents, local 
communities--frequently with state, federal, and industry partners--
often conduct preparedness drills, develop emergency response plans, 
obtain technical training, and procure specialized equipment for first 
responders. Although there is no difference in an emergency response to 
a hazardous material incident whether it is the result of an accident 
or terrorist attack, in cases of terrorism, law enforcement would play 
a greater role in a locality's overall response and coordinate a 
criminal investigation. Local law enforcement would make a 
determination whether federal law enforcement assistance is necessary 
for an investigation.

At the state level, a hazardous material response team typically 
assists those localities needing additional resources. In the states 
that we visited, such teams provided hazardous material response 
capability for locations that did not have their own hazardous material 
teams. In addition, state environmental agencies provide assistance in 
incident mitigation and monitoring of the environment.

In some instances, federal emergency response assistance may be called 
for by state and local governments or by the circumstances of the 
hazardous material incident. For example, the Department of Homeland 
Security's (DHS) Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R) Directorate 
may be requested to provide federal disaster assistance to an area. The 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), 
which is now housed within DHS, are required by the National 
Contingency Plan to be notified and may send representatives to the 
incident scene to assist in evaluating the environmental damage 
resulting from a hazardous material release. However, more robust state 
and federal resources are generally reserved for more serious 
incidents, such as the July 2001 derailment in Baltimore that involved 
a release of hazardous materials in a populated area.

Multiple Federal Plans and Agencies Provide Additional Resources to 
Address Hazardous Material Incidents:

Three federal response plans address emergencies involving hazardous 
material releases during rail transport: the Federal Response Plan, the 
National Contingency Plan (part of the National Response System), and 
the Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan. These plans all 
involve multiple federal agencies in their administration. The primary 
federal agencies with a role in emergency response for hazardous 
material incidents are DHS' Transportation Security Administration 
(TSA), EP&R Directorate, and USCG, EPA, DOT, Department of Energy 
(DOE), Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and Department of Labor's 
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The Office of 
Domestic Preparedness (ODP)--formerly part of the Department of Justice 
(DOJ) and now in DHS--, the Department of Health and Human Services 
(HHS), and OSHA provide funding for equipment procurement, planning, or 
training activities. HHS and OSHA also provide consultations in 
emergencies when requested.

Federal Response Plan Addresses All Types of Hazards:

The Federal Response Plan is an all hazard response plan carried out by 
the DHS EP&R Directorate and 26 other partner federal organizations. 
The plan provides the mechanism for delivery of federal assistance and 
resources to augment state and local government efforts in a major 
disaster or emergency. The plan provides for response with initial 
resources such as food, water, and emergency generators. The plan also 
provides additional resources to state and local governments to recover 
from an emergency.

The plan categorizes the types of federal assistance that a state is 
most likely to need into 12 emergency support functions. These 
functions are: transportation, communications, public works and 
engineering, firefighting, information and planning, mass care, 
resource support, health and medical services, urban search and rescue, 
hazardous materials, food, and energy. Each emergency support function 
is headed by a primary agency designated on the basis of its capability 
in that area.

Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan Coordinates Federal 
Response to Radiological Emergencies:

The objective of the Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan, also 
published by DHS' EP&R Directorate, is to establish an organized and 
integrated capability for a timely, coordinated response by federal 
agencies to peacetime radiological emergencies. According to the plan, 
the lead federal agency for incidents involving the transportation of 
radioactive materials varies by circumstance: the NRC is the lead 
federal agency for an emergency that involves radiological material 
licensed by the NRC or an agreement state, DOD or DOE are the lead 
federal agencies when radiological material is shipped by these 
agencies at the time of an accident, and EPA is the lead federal agency 
when an emergency involves radiological material that is not licensed 
or owned by a federal agency or an agreement state.[Footnote 45]

National Contingency Plan Addresses Oil Spills and Hazardous Substance 
Releases:

The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan, 
more commonly called the National Contingency Plan, is the federal 
government's plan for responding to both oil spills and hazardous 
substance releases. The lead federal agencies for responding to 
hazardous substance releases under the National Contingency Plan are 
EPA for inland zones and the USCG for coastal zones, although DOD, DOE, 
and other federal agencies are the lead agencies in certain 
circumstances.

The National Response Center, created by the National Contingency Plan, 
receives notifications of chemical, radiological, oil, and biological 
releases. Transportation accidents involving hazardous materials must 
be reported to the National Response Center by the carrier involved if 
the accident meets one or more of the criteria developed by the center. 
Some of these criteria include the following: a person is killed, a 
person receives injuries requiring hospitalization, property damage 
exceeds $50,000, an evacuation of the general public is required 
lasting 1 hour or more, and there is a release of marine pollutant in a 
quantity exceeding 119 gallons for liquids or 882 pounds for solids. In 
addition, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and 
Liability Act of 1980 requires that all releases of hazardous 
substances exceeding reportable quantities be reported by the 
responsible party to the center.

National Contingency Plan Has Three Organizational Levels: National 
Response Team, Regional Response Teams, and On scene Coordinators:

The National Response Team's membership consists of 16 federal agencies 
with expertise in various aspects of emergency response to pollution 
incidents. EPA serves as the chair agency and the USCG serves as the 
vice-chair agency of the National Response Team. The team is a national 
planning, policy, and coordinating body and does not physically respond 
to incidents.

The National Contingency Plan has 13 regional response teams that are 
also planning, policy, and coordinating bodies and do not physically 
respond to the scene of an incident. The regional response teams 
provide assistance to state and local governments in preparedness, 
planning, and training for emergency response. Another function of the 
teams is to provide technical assistance to local and state emergency 
planning committees to enhance local emergency response planning. The 
teams also coordinate the regional deployment of assets.

On scene coordinators are federal officials predesignated by EPA for 
inland areas and by the USCG for coastal areas. The on scene 
coordinators have the authority to coordinate containment, removal and 
disposal efforts, and resources during an oil spill or hazardous 
substance release. On scene coordinators for the USCG handle incidents 
within or threatening the coastal zone, while their EPA counterparts 
are responsible for discharges into, or threatening, the inland zone. 
This responsibility includes coordinating federal, state, local, and 
responsible party efforts. The USCG National Strike Force, which 
consists of three strike teams and a coordination center equipped to 
respond to major oil spills and chemical releases, assists on scene 
coordinators in incident response. On scene coordinators also have 
access to special teams, both those listed in the National Contingency 
Plan, such as the USCG National Strike Force and EPA Environmental 
Response Teams, and those not specifically listed in the plan, such as 
Department of Defense teams.

National Contingency Plan is Part of the National Response System to 
Prepare and Respond to Oil and Hazardous Material Incidents:

The National Contingency Plan is a component of the National Response 
System, a structure for preparedness and response to oil and hazardous 
material incidents that has been in place for over 30 years. The 
National Response System consists of a network of interagency 
coordinating groups at the national, regional, area, and local levels 
that are responsible for preparedness activities. The system 
establishes a network of contingency plans with different levels of 
geographical scope that form the federal government's efforts to 
prepare and coordinate responses to emergency incidents. In addition to 
the National Contingency Plan, there are regional and area contingency 
plans that coordinate effective responses within each of the 10 
standard federal regions and other designated areas covering Alaska, 
the Caribbean, and several islands in the Pacific. These plans include 
preparedness information on a regional level and identify useful 
response facilities and resources available from government, 
commercial, academic, and other sources. At the local level, the 
National Response System includes local contingency plans to prepare 
and organize local resources in the event of accidental releases of 
hazardous substances.	:

USCG officials told us that the National Response System's coordinating 
bodies strive for continual improvement through an ongoing process of 
plan development, exercises, and evaluation. Plans and capabilities are 
tested through exercises; exercise evaluations provide lessons learned 
which, in turn, may result in changes to the plan or modifications to 
resource capability. USCG officials told us that, while there currently 
exists no national assessment tool to measure preparedness, the 
National Response System's process provides a mechanism for evaluation 
and improvement.

Federal Agencies Provide a Variety of Assistance for Responding to and 
Improving Preparedness for Hazardous Material Rail Incidents:

Many federal agencies are responsible for providing either on-scene 
response assistance or offering technical expertise in the event of a 
hazardous material rail incident. As discussed above, many of these 
agencies play a role in the administration of federal response plans. 
Table 6 lists the agencies responsible for providing either on-scene 
assistance or technical expertise in the event of a hazardous material 
rail incident and outlines their roles.

Table 6: Federal Agencies Involved in Emergency Response to Hazardous 
Material Incidents:

Agency: DHS:

Role: TSA; TSA is involved in managing transportation 
security in the event of a threat via hazardous materials. TSA also has 
emergency powers in the event of a national emergency.[A]; 

Role: EP&R 
Directorate; The EP&R Directorate is responsible for implementing and 
managing federal disaster assistance. Federal assistance is available 
to supplement the resources of state and local governments in major 
disasters, such as emergencies involving hazardous material releases. 
Most federal assistance becomes available only following a declaration 
by the President under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and 
Emergency Assistance Act at the request of a state governor or the 
immediate declaration by the President; 

Role: USCG; USCG maintains the 
National Strike Force, which is comprised of three strike teams and the 
National Strike Force Coordination Center. The strike force is 
responsible for providing highly-trained responders and equipment in 
support of the USCG and EPA federal on scene coordinators who respond 
to oil discharges and hazardous substances releases. The USCG's 
Emergency Response Notification System database also records releases. 
The USCG maintains this database. The USCG can respond to a hazardous 
material rail incident in the coastal zone whenever there is a threat 
to public health or the environment. The National Contingency Plan 
outlines the appropriate response in the event of a spill.

Agency: DOT: 

Role: Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA); 
RSPA issues the Emergency Response Guidebook to assist first 
responders by identifying the potential effects of hazardous materials 
by type. RSPA has been issuing this guidebook in various formats since 
the late 1970s, and it recently distributed over 1.5 million copies of 
the latest edition. In 1997, RSPA, in conjunction with the Canadian and 
Mexican governments, issued a joint North American copy of the 
guidebook.

Agency: EPA; Role: EPA can respond to a hazardous material rail 
incident whenever there is a threat to public health or the 
environment. Typically, EPA is invited to incident scenes by first 
responders or local emergency management agencies. The National 
Contingency Plan outlines appropriate responses by EPA in the event of 
an oil spill or hazardous substance release; Under the Federal 
Radiological Emergency Response Plan, EPA is the lead agency when the 
source of the radioactivity is unknown. Examples of unknown sources 
include scrap shipped from overseas and materials with unknown owners.

Agency: DOE:

Role: DOE participates in the Federal Radiological 
Emergency Response Plan that coordinates the federal government 
response to radiological emergencies. DOE participates in the Federal 
Radiological Preparedness Coordinating Committee. DOE is the lead 
federal agency for response to an emergency involving materials that 
are in DOE custody. DOE also has the initial responsibility for 
coordinating off-site federal radiological monitoring and assessment 
assistance during response to a radiological emergency. DOE may respond 
to a state or lead federal agency request for assistance by dispatching 
a Radiological Assistance Program team. According to DOE officials, if 
the situation requires more assistance than a team can provide, DOE 
will alert or activate additional resources, including the Aerial 
Measuring System, Atmospheric Release Advisory Capability, Accident 
Response Group, Federal Radiological Monitoring and Assessment Center, 
Nuclear Emergency Search Team, and Radiation Emergency Assistance 
Center and Training Site.

Agency: NRC:

Role: NRC is the lead federal agency for emergency 
response to radiological events involving NRC-licensed facilities and 
the transportation of licensed materials. Although state and local 
governments would be the actual responders to an accident or incident 
involving radioactive material, NRC's response teams follow events as 
they unfold in a radiological shipment incident and provide federal 
resources to responders. When the source of shipments of radioactive 
materials cannot be identified during an incident, NRC would assist the 
EPA's Radiological Response Teams to identify the source.

Agency: OSHA:

Role: OSHA is a member of the National Response Team and 
provides assistance to ensure the safety and health of personnel 
deployed at emergency response sites.

Sources: GAO analysis of DHS' EP&R Directorate, USCG, DOT, EPA, DOE, 
and NRC data.

[A] Per 49 U.S.C. § 114(g).

[End of table]

In addition to providing on-scene assistance or technical expertise in 
the event of a hazardous material incident, some of the same federal 
agencies listed above provide training or grant assistance to local 
communities to improve their emergency preparedness for hazardous 
material incidents. Tables 7 to 11 list the federal agencies that have 
some role in providing a variety of assistance and grants to emergency 
responders.

Table 7: Hazardous Material Emergency Response Assistance and Grants 
Provided by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Domestic 
Preparedness (Formerly a Department of Justice Program):

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number[A]: 16.007; 
Assistance program grant title: State Domestic Preparedness Equipment 
Support Program; Purpose: Funding provided to states to plan for and 
execute a comprehensive threat and needs assessment to develop a three-
year plan to enhance first responder capabilities, and to provide for 
equipment purchases and the provision of specialized training; FY 2002 
funding[B]: $481 million.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number[A]: 16.008; 
Assistance program grant title: Domestic Preparedness Training and 
Technical Assistance Program; Purpose: Funding to train state and 
local jurisdictions to respond to weapons of mass destruction domestic 
terrorist incidents, involving nuclear, biological, chemical, and 
explosive devices; FY 2002 funding[B]: $62 million.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number[A]: 16.580; 
16.597; 16.599[C]; Assistance program grant title: Purpose: 
Organizations, rather than state and local entities, are the one-time 
recipients of these funds. Grants are used for a multitude of purposes 
including, but not limited to, meetings to share best practices and 
facilitate discussion on public and private partnerships; FY 2002 
funding[B]: $17 million.

Sources: GAO analysis of DHS and CFDA data.

[A] CFDA is the governmentwide source document of federal domestic 
assistance program information produced by the executive branch.

[B] According to ODP officials, the total amount awarded in fiscal year 
2002 does not include contracts or interagency agreements, which is 
approximately $24 million.

[C] According to ODP officials, this program includes multifunding for 
different purposes.

[End of table]

Table 8: Hazardous Material Emergency Response Assistance and Grants 
Provided by the Department of Transportation's Research and Special 
Programs Administration:

CFDA Number: 20.703; Assistance program grant title: Hazardous 
material emergency preparedness training and planning grants; Purpose: 
Intended to provide financial and technical assistance as well as 
national direction and guidance to enhance state, territorial, tribal, 
and local hazardous material emergency planning and training. This 
program distributes fees collected from shippers and carriers of 
hazardous materials to emergency responders for training and to local 
emergency planning committees (LEPCs) for planning.[A]; FY 2002 
funding: $13.05 million[B].

Sources: GAO analysis of DOT and CFDA data.

[A] Established under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know 
Act of 1986, LEPCs must develop an emergency plan and review it at 
least annually. LEPC membership includes representatives from police, 
fire, civil defense, public health, transportation, environmental 
agencies, as well as representatives from facilities subject to 
emergency planning requirements, community groups, and the media.

[B] $7.8 million of this funding is for the training of emergency 
responders, $5 million is for LEPC
planning, and $250,000 is for International Association of Fire Fighter 
instructor training in hazardous material response operations.

[End of table]

Table 9: Hazardous Material Emergency Response and Assistance Grants 
Provided by the Department of Homeland Security's Directorate of 
Emergency Preparedness and Response:

CFDA number: 83.012; Assistance program grant title: Hazardous 
materials assistance program; Purpose: Provides technical and financial 
assistance through the states to support state, local, and American 
Indian tribal governments in oil and hazardous materials emergency 
planning and exercising and to enhance state, tribal, and local 
governments capabilities to interoperate with the National Response 
System; FY 2002 funding: $264,000.

CFDA number: 83.547; Assistance program grant title: First responder 
counter-terrorism training assistance; Purpose: Designed to enhance the 
capabilities of first responders in managing the consequences of 
terrorist acts; FY 2002 funding: $4 million.

CFDA number: 83.552; Assistance program grant title: Emergency 
management performance grants; Purpose: Designed to develop 
comprehensive emergency management, including terrorism consequence 
management preparedness, at the state and local levels and to improve 
emergency planning, preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery 
capabilities; FY 2002 funding: $134 million.

CFDA number: 83.554; Assistance program grant title: Assistance to 
firefighters grant; Purpose: Designed to enhance abilities with respect 
to fire and fire-related hazards. This program seeks to identify 
departments that lack the basic tools and resources necessary to 
protect the health and safety of the public and their firefighting 
personnel; FY 2002 funding: $144 million.

CFDA number: 83.009; 83.010; Assistance program grant title: Hazardous 
materials/weapons of mass destruction (WMD) training standards and 
requirements; guidance and training quality control technical 
assistance; (under interagency agreement with DOT); Purpose: Provides 
guidance and technical assistance to state and major metropolitan 
training departments on managing and implementing hazardous material 
and WMD responder training. Purpose is to improve the quality of 
hazardous material/WMD responder training nationally and the cost-
effectiveness of state and local use of federal training funds in 
hazardous material and WMD response training; FY 2002 funding: $1.5 
million.

CFDA number: 83.527; 83.530; Assistance program grant title: Hazardous 
materials/WMD; responder; training; curriculum; Purpose: The National 
Fire Academy and the Emergency Management Institute offer complete and 
definitive curricula for all facets of local responder training for 
hazardous material and WMD incidents; FY 2002 funding: $1.2 million.

CFDA number: 83.549; Assistance program grant title: Chemical 
stockpile emergency preparedness program; Purpose: To enhance emergency 
preparedness capabilities of the states and local communities at each 
of the chemical agent stockpile storage facilities. The purpose of the 
program is to assist states and local communities in efforts to improve 
their capacity to plan for and respond to accidents associated with the 
storage of chemical warfare materials; FY 2002 funding: $82 million.

CFDA number: 83.562; 83.563; 83.564; Assistance program grant title: 
FY 2002 supplemental grants for state and local preparedness; Purpose: 
Provide funding assistance to state and local governments to update 
their emergency operations plans for all hazards with special emphasis 
on WMD terrorism preparedness. Funds will also be used to support the 
formation of citizen corps councils, expansion of the community 
emergency response team program, and to improve state emergency 
operations centers; FY 2002 funding: $181 million.

Sources: GAO analysis of DHS, CFDA, and National Volunteer Fire Council 
data.

[End of table]

Table 10: Hazardous Material Emergency Response Assistance and Grants 
Provided by the Department of Health and Human Services:

CFDA number: 93.003; Assistance program grant title: Metropolitan 
Medical Response System Program (part of the Public Health and Social 
Services Emergency Fund); Purpose: Provides assistance to U.S. cities, 
via contracts, to prepare for a rapid, coordinated medical response to 
large-scale public emergencies. The contracts enable cities to 
coordinate emergency first responders, public health systems, and 
hospitals to better respond to the needs of their citizens in times of 
crisis; FY 2002 funding: $10 million.

CFDA number: 93.204; Assistance program grant title: Surveillance of 
hazardous substance emergency events; Purpose: To assist state health 
departments in developing a state-based surveillance system to monitor 
hazardous substance emergency events and public health impact. The 
Hazardous Substances and Emergency Events Surveillance Program, managed 
by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's Division of 
Health Studies, provides data to show what the health impacts have been 
of previous hazardous material releases, which could be used in 
preparing threat assessments; FY 2002 funding: $1.5 million.

Sources: GAO analysis of HHS and CFDA data.


[End of table]

Table 11: Hazardous Material Emergency Response Assistance and Grants 
Provided by the Department of Energy[A]:

CFDA Number: 81.106; Assistance program grant title: Transport of 
Transuranic wastes to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant: States and 
tribal concerns, proposed solutions; Purpose: Financial assistance is 
provided to support cooperation among the tribes, the southern, 
western, and midwestern states on the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant 
corridors, and DOE in developing plans and procedures for the safe and 
uneventful transportation of transuranic waste from current temporary 
storage facilities to the plant. Restrictions on the use of funds 
depends on the specific collaborative agreement. According to DOE 
officials, applicants must meet the guidelines established by DOE; FY 
2002 funding: $3.2 million.

Sources: GAO analysis of DOE and CFDA data.

[A] In addition to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant program, DOE 
officials said that the Transportation Emergency Planning Program 
provides tools, including training materials and access to go-kits for 
instructors, and assists states and tribes in developing their 
transportation emergency capabilities through plans, procedures and 
training. DOE officials said that this is not a grant program and does 
not provide funding directly to states or tribes for emergency 
preparedness.

[End of table]

Private Organizations Also Play a Role in Emergency Response to 
Hazardous Material Incidents:

Rail and chemical companies, both through their member organizations 
and individually, participate in a variety of outreach efforts to 
better prepare local emergency responders for hazardous material 
transportation incidents. Key private efforts include the 
Transportation Community Awareness Emergency Response Program 
(TRANSCAER), the Chemical Transportation Emergency Center (CHEMTREC), 
and the Operation Respond Emergency Information System (OREIS). 
Individual rail and chemical companies also work with local communities 
to prepare for hazardous material rail incidents through their 
participation in drills and sharing of emergency response plans.

Transportation Community Awareness Response Program Helps Prepare Local 
Communities for Hazardous Material Transportation Incidents:

The American Chemistry Council; the Association of American Railroads; 
Chemical Education Foundation; National Tank Truck Carriers, Inc.; and 
the Chlorine Institute sponsor the TRANSCAER program to provide support 
to communities in preparation for transportation emergencies involving 
hazardous materials. TRANSCAER is supported through sponsor resources 
as well as monetary and in-kind contributions. TRANSCAER sponsors are 
directed to engage in a variety of activities with local communities to 
improve response capabilities in the event of a hazardous material 
transportation incident, including establishing contact with LEPCs, 
reviewing existing LEPC emergency response plans, assisting LEPCs with 
the establishment of transportation advisory groups, assisting LEPCs 
with the implementation of transportation flow studies, and 
participating in local emergency response training exercises.

24-hour Emergency Response Information Is Available to First 
Responders:

CHEMTREC is a public service of the chemistry industry that provides 
services to shippers of hazardous materials, including a 24-hour, 7-day 
a week emergency call center that provides emergency response 
information in the event of a hazardous material incident. CHEMTREC was 
established in 1971 by the chemical industry as a public service 
hotline for firefighters, law enforcement, and other emergency 
responders to obtain information and assistance for emergency incidents 
involving chemicals and hazardous materials. If an accident occurs, an 
emergency responder can call CHEMTREC for information on the product 
being shipped.

First Responders Can Access Database of Rail Carriers in the Event of a 
Hazardous Material Incident:

The rail transportation industry supports OREIS, a software system 
designed for use in passenger train and hazardous material incidents 
that connects first responders to the databases of railroad and motor 
carriers to allow them to obtain information quickly and accurately on 
the specific types of hazardous materials that may be involved in an 
incident and how these materials should be handled. All Class I 
railroads in the United States and Canada and several short line and 
regional railroads participate in the program. The program can be 
accessed over the Internet or with a computer software package. 
Operation Respond is a not-for-profit institution that distributes 
OREIS software and assists localities and transportation companies 
during a transportation emergency.

Individual Rail and Chemical Shipping Companies Participate in Local 
Emergency Response Activities:

In addition to the industry-wide outreach initiatives discussed above, 
individual rail and chemical shipping companies work with local 
communities to develop preparedness for hazardous material incidents. 
For example, rail company officials that we interviewed said that they 
participated in preparedness drills, provided communities with 
emergency response guidelines, and participated in local emergency 
planning committee activities. Rail and chemical shipping company 
representatives also told us that they have hazardous material teams 
available on an on-call basis to travel to the scene of an incident to 
assist local communities in response.

Cooperative relationships between private sector industry and local 
communities to improve preparedness may be formalized or ad hoc. For 
example, in some cities, mutual aid agreements are used to leverage 
industry technical expertise to assist a community in responding in the 
event of an incident. In some cases, there are less formal 
relationships where rail companies provide copies of their emergency 
response plans to communities and meet with local officials only as the 
need arises. Overall, in our case study visits to 10 cities, we found 
that most cities had informal emergency response relationships with 
private sector industry, where resources were leveraged when needed.

Multiple Standards and Guidelines of Preparedness Exist:

A variety of standards and self-assessment tools are available for 
local communities to address their own preparedness needs for hazardous 
material incidents. Some standards are focused on general emergency 
preparedness, while others are specific to preparing for and responding 
to hazardous material incidents or weapons of mass destruction events. 
These standards come from several federal agencies and private 
organizations. However, the use of these standards is voluntary and not 
required by federal regulations, and local communities adopt their use 
based on individual needs. Our research identified a variety of 
emergency preparedness standards that have been adopted by local 
communities to respond to and prepare for hazardous material incidents 
by rail. These standards are described in the next section.

National Fire Protection Association Standards:

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is an international 
nonprofit organization that promotes fire safety through the consensus 
development of scientifically-based codes, standards, training, and 
education. There are three NFPA standards related to hazardous material 
incident response, with a fourth related standard for emergency 
management. The standards are as follows:

* Recommended Practices for Responding to Hazardous Materials Incidents 
(NFPA Standard 471) outlines recommended procedures for all 
organizations responsible for responding to incidents involving 
hazardous materials. These recommended practices include conducting 
annual training exercises to determine the adequacy and effectiveness 
of hazardous material emergency plans and updating hazardous material 
emergency response plans on an annual basis.

* Standard for Professional Competence of Responders to Hazardous 
Materials Incidents (NFPA Standard 472) identifies the levels of 
competency required of responders to hazardous materials incidents. The 
standard defines four different levels of first responders, including 
the awareness level, operational level, technician level, and incident 
commander level as well as the types of competencies expected at each 
of these first responder levels.

* Standard for Competencies for Emergency Medical Services Personnel 
Responding to Hazardous Materials Incidents (NFPA Standard 473) 
identifies the levels of competency required of emergency medical 
service personnel who respond to hazardous material incidents.

* Standards on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity 
Programs (NFPA Standard 1600) establishes minimum criteria for 
disaster/emergency management. The standards provide common program 
elements, techniques, and processes for disaster/emergency management 
planning and operations in the private and public sectors.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration Worker Protection 
Standard:

The OSHA Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard 
establishes worker protection standards for emergency responders to 
hazardous material incidents. The standard provides:

* procedures for handling emergency response,

* training requirements (including refresher training), and:

* procedures for postemergency response operation.

EPA Hazardous Material Team Planning Guidance:

EPA's hazardous material team-planning guidance provides assistance to 
local fire departments in identifying, acquiring, and maintaining the 
hazardous material response equipment and trained personnel appropriate 
for their locale. This manual provides guidance on:

* determining requirements for hazardous material response,

* establishing the necessary level of expertise to meet those 
requirements,

* developing cost estimates for emergency response budget needs, and:

* preparing emergency response and standard operating procedures to 
include all participants in a local response community.

Weapons of Mass Destruction Vulnerability Assessment and Training 
Standards:

In order to receive grant funds from DHS' Office of Domestic 
Preparedness (which was formerly part of the Department of Justice) for 
weapons of mass destruction (WMD) preparedness, states are required to 
complete a vulnerability assessment to benchmark a current 
vulnerability profile with regard to a WMD terrorist incident. In 
addition, in August 2002, the Office of Domestic Preparedness issued 
new guidelines to assist first responders in determining their training 
needs and improve their performance to respond to a WMD terrorist 
incident.

HHS Guidance on Managing Hazardous Materials Incidents:

HHS has developed a three-volume series of guidelines entitled Managing 
Hazardous Materials Incidents to help emergency response and health 
care professionals plan for and respond to hazardous material 
emergencies. Volumes I and II are generic planning guides to assist 
first responders and hospital personnel to plan for incidents that 
involve hazardous materials. Examples of the types of guidance offered 
include appropriate personal protection equipment and suggested patient 
decontamination procedures. HHS is also developing training in incident 
stress management. Volume III is a guide for health care professionals 
who treat individuals who have been exposed to hazardous materials. 
Volume III describes 51 specific chemical protocols that provide 
recommendations for the on-scene and hospital medical management of 
patients exposed during a hazardous material incident.

State Capability Assessment for Readiness:

In 1996, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations asked the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is now part of DHS' EP&R 
Directorate, to develop a system of performance criteria that measures 
emergency management capabilities and operational readiness throughout 
the United States. The State Capability Assessment for Readiness is the 
EP&R Directorate's yearly status report on this effort. States self-
assess their level of capability for 13 emergency management functions, 
such as hazard identification, risk assessment, and hazard mitigation, 
and the results are aggregated.

Officials from the EP&R Directorate told us they are working with the 
National Emergency Management Association and the International 
Association of Emergency Management to develop a local assessment tool 
that will provide local emergency managers the opportunity to evaluate 
their emergency management programs. According to EP&R Directorate 
officials, the local assessment tool is designed to complement a 
state's assessment tool to provide more accurate results. The EP&R 
Directorate has completed a draft of this document and it is currently 
under review by the National Emergency Management Association, the 
International Association of Emergency Management, states, and other 
organizations.

Emergency Management Accreditation Program Standards:

The Emergency Management Accreditation Program is a voluntary 
accreditation process for state and local programs responsible for 
disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. An 
independent team of emergency managers assesses states and local 
communities to determine whether their emergency response programs meet 
national standards. These standards are based on NFPA Standard 1600 for 
emergency management and business continuity programs and adapts them 
specifically for state and local use.

[End of section]

Appendix VI: Letter from the Federal Railroad Administration, May 28, 
2003:

U.S. Department	Of Transportation 
Federal Railroad Administration:

Administrator

1120 Vermont Ave., NW.
Washington, DC 20590:

May 28, 2003:

Mr. Michael Gryszkowiec Managing Director,

Physical Infrastructure Team 
U.S. General Accounting Office 
441 G Street N.W. Washington, D.C. 20548:

Dear Mr. Gryszkowiec,

It is with concern that I am writing this letter regarding GAO's 
report, "Rail Safety and Security: Some Actions Already Taken to 
Enhance Rail Security, but Risk-based Plan Needed." While the report 
was released on Friday, May 23, and we have not had the opportunity to 
complete our internal review of the document, we are concerned about a 
significant mischaracterization of our position regarding the use of 
risk-based management. The "Agency Comments and Our Evaluation," 
section of the report quotes FRA officials as saying, "A risk-based 
management approach to rail security would circumvent the regulatory 
cost-benefit approach." The report goes on to rebut this statement, 
expressing the positive attributes associated with risk-based 
management.

Please understand that the Department and FRA in particular recognize 
the merits of risk-based management, and utilize it in our day-to-day 
business. In the statement that the report attempted to characterize, 
we were explaining that the use of risk-based management, enables the 
Department to regulate aspects of the transportation industry that we 
would otherwise not be able to address if we relied on cost-benefit 
alone. However, the statement in the report conveys that FRA is opposed 
to the use of this approach. It is apparent that GAO misunderstood and 
misreported our position on this very important issue.

In reviewing the specific wording of documents exchanged with GAO, we 
recognize that our wording could have been clearer. In discussing this 
with your staff on the project, they indicated that in fact they were 
confused by the language, and tried to make the best of it. We would 
ask that if a similar situation arises in the future, that the staff 
contact us to ensure that the interpretation they are making is indeed 
the correct one. Further, when oral comments are provided, we have in 
other instances had a brief opportunity to verify the accuracy of GAO's 
written characterization of our comments. We would suggest that 
providing such an opportunity for review represents a best practice, 
which if adopted for use as a standard procedure, could have prevented 
this situation.

We ask that GAO rectify this situation to the best of its ability in 
light of the fact that the report has already been issued. While it is 
difficult to revise the hard copies of the report, we would suggest 
that GAO consider inclusion of an errata document and delete this 
paragraph from the web-based copies of the report. We would welcome any 
other suggestions from GAO regarding how we can ensure that our 
position on this important matter is clear to the Congress.

We appreciate your assistance in this matter, and look forward to 
working with you in the future. Please contact my office at 202-493-
6100 or Martin Gertel, in the Office of the Secretary of 
Transportation, at 202-366-5145 if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Allan Rutter 
Administrator:

Signed by Allan Rutter: 

cc: Martin Gertel:

[End of section]

Appendix VII: GAO Response to Federal Railroad Administration Letter:

Accountability * Integrity * Reliability:

United States General Accounting Office Washington, DC 20548:

June 18, 2003:

Mr. Allan Rutter Administrator Federal Railroad Administration 1120 
Vermont Ave, N. W. Washington, D.C. 20590:

Dear Mr. Rutter:

I am writing in response to your letter of May 28, 2003, in which you 
expressed concern that the views of the Federal Railroad Administration 
(FRA) on a recommended risk-based plan for rail security were not 
accurately characterized in our report, Rail Safety and Security. Some 
Actions Already Taken to Enhance Rail Security, but Risk-based Plan 
Needed (GAO-03-435), dated April 30, 2003. It is a matter of utmost 
importance to GAO that we fairly and accurately represent the views of 
the agencies we work with. GAO has established a number of procedures 
that we follow during our report preparation to ensure that we 
accomplish this goal.

After reviewing our actions in preparing this report, we have concluded 
that we followed our procedures. On January 21, 2003, we provided the 
Department of Transportation (DOT) with a preliminary statement of the 
facts we planned on presenting in the report. On March 31, 2003, we 
provided DOT a copy of the draft report for agency comment. We met with 
you and other DOT officials to discuss your views on the draft report 
on April 14, 2003, and, also on that date, we received a written list 
of suggestions from FRA for modifications to the draft report. We 
incorporated these suggestions into the draft report and on April 16, 
2003, returned the revised report draft, including our characterization 
of FRA's comments to DOT. On April 18, 2003, we received notes from the 
Office of the Secretary and FRA thanking us for incorporating their 
comments. Subsequently, the report was edited and minor changes were 
made to the report's summary of FRA comments. It is this final edit 
that resulted in the inadvertent mischaracterization of FRA's views on 
a risk-based management plan.

We feel it is important that the report's agency comments section 
fairly reflect FRA's views. Your letter states that FRA recognizes the 
merits of risk-based management and uses it in its day-to-day business. 
You felt that our "Agency Comments and Evaluation Section" incorrectly 
conveyed the view that FRA was opposed to the use of risk-based 
management. To make the report as accurate as possible, we will remove 
the agency comment discussion of the risk-based plan from the version 
of the 
report on the GAO Web site and will include your May 28th letter that 
clarifies the agency's position on this subject as an appendix in the 
report. We also plan to include this letter as an appendix in the 
report to explain why the original report is being revised.

I look forward to a continued cooperative working relationship with 
FRA.

Sincerely yours,

Michael Gryszkowiec 
Managing Director Physical Infrastructure Team:

Signed by Michael Gryszkowiec: 

[End of section]

FOOTNOTES

[1] The proposed Yucca Mountain Repository is not scheduled to begin 
operations until 2010. For information on the safety and security 
issues posed by possible future rail shipments of spent nuclear fuel, 
see appendix IV.

[2] This Directorate includes the entire functions of the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency, formerly an independent federal agency.

[3] 49 U.S.C. § 5103.

[4] Where specific references to flammable, radioactive, or other 
subsets of material are needed, the distinction will be made in the 
report. 

[5] RSPA defines an incident as an unintentional release of hazardous 
materials during the course of transportation. A serious incident is 
defined as an incident that involves a fatality or major injury, 
substantial property damage, closure of a major transportation artery 
or facility, or evacuation due to a hazardous material release. 

[6] Appendix III contains additional information on the amounts and 
types of hazardous materials shipped by rail throughout the United 
States. 

[7] A ton-mile is a measure of volume that accounts for the distance a 
commodity is shipped. One ton-mile is equal to one ton shipped one 
mile.

[8] See appendix III for additional discussion on ton-mile shipments by 
transportation mode.

[9] Nuclear fuel is generally used in a nuclear reactor for a number of 
years before losing its ability to efficiently create energy. When the 
fuel can no longer effectively produce energy, it is considered "spent" 
and is replaced, but the spent fuel remains radioactive and hazardous.

[10] In March 2003, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing board 
blocked, for the time being, the issuance of a license to this private 
facility because of the risks that military aircraft operations 
conducted near the facility might pose. 

[11] Appendix IV contains additional information on safety issues 
associated with Yucca Mountain and the Utah facility. We are also 
currently undertaking a study assessing the findings of federally-
sponsored studies of sabotage and severe accidents involving spent 
fuel. 

[12] Preemption occurs when Congress enacts a statute intending to 
preclude inconsistent state or local law. Depending upon the 
circumstances, Congress may choose to preempt all or only some forms of 
state or local rulemaking. The law preempts any inconsistent state or 
local rulemaking. 

[13] Fissile material is any material fissionable by slow neutrons. 
This involves splitting a nucleus into at least two other nuclei and 
the release of a relatively large amount of energy. The three primary 
fissile materials are uranium-233, uranium-235, and plutonium-239.

[14] See U.S. General Accounting Office, Homeland Security: Voluntary 
Initiatives Are Under Way at Chemical Facilities, but the Extent of 
Security Preparedness Is Unknown, GAO-03-439 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 
14, 2003) for information on voluntary actions that the chemical 
industry has taken to address security preparedness and the challenges 
that it faces in protecting its assets and operations.

[15] For additional information on the applicability of risk management 
to homeland security, see: U.S. General Accounting Office, Homeland 
Security: A Risk Management Approach Can Guide Preparedness Efforts, 
GAO-02-208T (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 31, 2001).

[16] 49 CFR §174.14, Movements To Be Expedited. 

[17] We were not able to corroborate FRA's explanation. What became the 
48-hour requirement for expedited movement is found in the 1914 
published rules of the Interstate Commerce Commission, Regulations for 
the Transportation of Explosives and Other Dangerous Articles by 
Freight and Express and Specifications for Shipping Containers, 
Interstate Commerce Commission, ¶¶ 1433, 1714, (GPO eff. October 1, 
1914). The origin of the rules themselves can be traced from even 
earlier Interstate Commerce Commission rules, which grew out of the 
need to regulate the safe transportation of explosives. The 1914 
regulations appear to have remained largely unchanged until 1939, when 
they were included in the first version of the Code of Federal 
Regulations. At that time, 49 C.F.R. § 80.262 (1939), provided:

"Movement to be expedited. Carriers must forward shipments of 
explosives and other dangerous articles promptly and within 48 hours 
after acceptance at originating point or receipt at any yard, transfer 
station, or interchange point."



[18] Leased tracks are railroad tracks in rail yards or railroad 
sidings that manufacturers, such as chemical companies, lease from 
railroad companies to temporarily store their commodities until needed. 
Commodities are stored in rail cars on these "leased" tracks. Leases 
may be "fixed," when a company enters into a lease of specific track, 
or "rolling," when the company pays a storage fee for whatever track 
the car may be sitting on. The location where the car is held may be 
the destination identified on the shipping papers but not the final 
destination where the hazardous materials will be unloaded. Fixed 
facilities are business premises where extremely hazardous materials 
are produced, stored, or used in amounts exceeding legally proscribed 
threshold quantities.

[19] P.L. 99-499.

[20] AAR's membership includes the major Class I railroads, two of the 
larger short line railroads, and 500 smaller railroads represented 
through an AAR operating committee.

[21] Appendix V contains additional information on the federal 
government and private sector resources available to localities for 
emergency response to rail incidents involving the transportation of 
hazardous materials.

[22] 42 U.S.C. § 10175(c).

[23] For hazardous material incidents, a locality's fire department is 
the lead designated agency.

[24] We defined a small city as one having a population of less than 
100,000 people, a medium-sized city as one having a population between 
100,000 and 500,000 people, and a large city as one having a population 
of over 500,000 people. The population figures are based on the 2000 
U.S. Census.

[25] Typically, a firefighter's standard turnout gear includes a 
helmet, coat, gloves, pants, boots, and a self-contained breathing 
apparatus, which provides the user with respiratory protection in a 
toxic or oxygen deficient environment.

[26] The Waybill Sample is a stratified random 1 percent sample of 
waybills prepared by railroads. This sample is stratified by the 
collection method (electronic vs. hardcopy) and number of carloads 
included in a given waybill. Because the Surface Transportation Board 
has different sampling rates for each stratum, each stratum has its own 
weight. These weights are applied to the sample calculations of 
carloads and tonnage to estimate population values. 

[27] The Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, 49 U.S.C. § 5103(a), 
defines a hazardous material as a substance or material that the 
Secretary of Transportation has determined is capable of posing an 
unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in 
commerce. It includes hazardous substances, hazardous wastes, marine 
pollutants, and elevated temperature materials. 

[28] The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296), § 1711(a)(1) and 
(2) directed the Secretary of Transportation to regulate transportation 
security and safety (49 U.S.C. 5103), and § 1711(a)(3) and (b)(1) 
through (3) of the act directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to 
issue transportation security regulations.

[29] P.L. 99-499.

[30] P.L. 84-159.

[31] 10 C.F.R. 71.

[32] P.L. 83-703.

[33] DOT's Surface Transportation Board designates three classes of 
freight railroads based on annual operating revenues. Class I railroads 
are the largest of these, with annual operating revenues of $261.9 
million or more (in 2000 dollars). Class II and III railroads are 
defined by their revenues, but are often referred to as regional, short 
line, or switching railroads.

[34] Flammable liquids are approximately 81 percent of all hazardous 
materials shipped, about 2 percent of which are transported by rail. 

[35] Transuranic waste is a type of radioactive waste created from the 
processing of nuclear materials. Transuranic elements include 
plutonium, americium, curium, and neptunium, all of which are created 
during nuclear reactor operations. Some transuranic elements are used 
in production of nuclear weapons, spacecraft batteries, and consumer 
products. The remaining unusable material containing transuranic 
elements is transuranic waste. Transuranic waste includes not only the 
transuranic elements themselves, but also ordinary items contaminated 
with transuranic elements: tools, gloves, protective suits, tarpaulins, 
soil, and sludge. 



[36] For storage purposes, SNF material is put into water pools to 
cool, both thermally and radioactively. The pools are known as wet 
storage. Dry storage is a newer technology that uses concrete and steel 
to allow heat and radioactivity to dissipate.

[37] 42 U.S.C. § 10222.

[38] A cask is a hardened container designed specifically for holding 
SNF. NRC certifies cask designs. 

[39] In March 2003, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing board 
blocked for the time being the issuance of a license to PFS because of 
the risks that military aircraft operations conducted near the facility 
might pose.

[40] NUREG/CR-6672, Reexamination of Spent Fuel Shipment Risk 
Estimates, March 2000, which is also discussed in this appendix.

[41] NUREG/CR-6799, Analysis of Rail Car Components Exposed to a Tunnel 
Fire Environment, March 2003.

[42] 10 C.F.R. 71.

[43] Sandia National Laboratories, Projected Source Terms for Potential 
Sabotage Events Related to Spent Fuel Shipments, SAND99-0963 
(Albuquerque, New Mexico: 1999).

[44] The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Transport Canada, and 
the Secretariat of Transport and Communications of Mexico developed the 
Emergency Response Guidebook jointly for use by fire fighters, police, 
and other emergency services personnel who respond to hazardous 
material incidents.

[45] Agreement states are states establishing programs under 42 U.S.C. 
§ 2021(b) to permit states to exercise some of NRC's authority.

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