oversight

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

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-04-30.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

             United States General Accounting Office

GAO          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
             a
                                               April 2003


                                               RAIL SAFETY AND SECURITY

                                               Some Actions Already Taken to Enhance
Highlights of GAO-03-435, a report to
Congressional Requesters
                                               Rail Security, but Risked-based Plan
                                               Needed


In the wake of the terrorist attacks           After the response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, industry and
of September 11, 2001, concerns                government took steps to improve the safety and security of hazardous
have been raised that the nation’s             material rail transportation. The railroad and chemical industries assessed
shipments of hazardous materials               their facilities’ exposure to attack and developed a security plan to address
by rail may be vulnerable to                   their risks. The Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security
terrorist attack. Millions of tons of
                                               Administration has begun to address nonaviation security by starting
hazardous materials are shipped
yearly across the United States.               development of an overall intermodal transportation system security plan,
Serious incidents involving these              but has not yet developed specific plans to address the security of
materials have the potential to                individual surface transportation modes, including rail. Such a plan is
cause widespread disruption or                 needed to determine the adequacy of security measures already in place
injury. GAO was asked to examine               to protect rail shipments and identify security gaps.
recent steps taken by industry and
government to improve the safety               Officials from local jurisdictions that GAO visited, as well as other
and security of these shipments                government and private sector experts, identified several unresolved issues
and steps taken by local
                                               pertaining to the safety and security of transporting hazardous materials by
jurisdictions to prepare to respond
to hazardous material rail                     rail. These include the need for measures to better safeguard hazardous
incidents.                                     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.
GAO recommends that the                        While no standardized tool exists to gauge local preparedness, officials from
Secretary of Homeland Security                 nine of the ten cities that GAO visited said that they are generally prepared
work with the Secretary of                     to respond to hazardous materials incidents. By the end of 2004, the
Transportation to develop a risk-              Department of Homeland Security plans to determine the response
based plan to specifically address
                                               capabilities of the nation by developing an assessment tool for use by states
rail security. The plan should
                                               in performing assessments of their local communities’ emergency response
establish time frames for actions to
protect hazardous material rail                capabilities.
shipments. Department of
Transportation and Homeland                    A Hazardous Material Rail Tank Car
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         Source: Department of Homeland Security.
guerrerop@gao.gov.
Contents



Letter                                                                                                    1
                             Results in Brief                                                             2
                             Background                                                                   4
                             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                                      10
                             Several Issues Regarding the Safety and Security of Hazardous
                               Materials Transported by Rail Remain Unresolved                           18
                             Most Localities Visited Report They Are Generally Prepared to
                               Respond to Hazardous Material Rail Incidents, but Sufficiency of
                               Actions Taken Cannot Be Determined                                        26
                             Conclusions                                                                 33
                             Recommendation for Executive Action                                         33
                             Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                          34


Appendixes
              Appendix I:    Scope and Methodology                                                       36
                             Organizations Visited and Contacted                                         36
             Appendix II:    Oversight of Rail Shipments of Hazardous Materials by the
                             Department of Transportation and Other Federal Agencies                     40
                             DOT and DHS Oversee Rail Safety and Security                                40
                             EPA Oversees Fixed Facilities That Handle Hazardous Materials               41
                             OSHA Focuses on the Safety of Plant Workers and Emergency
                               Responders                                                                42
                             NRC and DOE Oversee Shipments of Nuclear Material                           42
                             DOD Oversees the Safety and Security of Military Hazardous
                               Material Shipments                                                        43
             Appendix III:   Annual Hazardous Material Rail Shipments in the United
                             States                                                                      44
                             Department of Transportation Categorizes Hazardous Materials by
                               Nine Classes                                                              44
                             Overall Volume of Rail Shipments of Hazardous Materials for Rail,
                               Truck, and Water are Similar by Ton-mile                                  45
                             Rail Shipments Represent a Much Higher Share of Volume for Some
                               Hazardous Material Classes                                                48
                             Poisonous Inhalation Hazardous Materials Were Among the Ten
                               Most Commonly Shipped Hazardous Materials from 1998 to 2001




                             Page i                                      GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                         Contents




                         Rail Shipments of Radioactive and Military Hazardous Materials
                           Represent a Small Fraction of All Rail Shipments of Hazardous
                           Materials                                                                 51
          Appendix IV:   Safety and Security Issues Posed by Possible Future Rail
                         Shipments of Spent Nuclear Fuel                                             53
                         Proposed Private Fuel Storage and Yucca Mountain Repository
                           Plans Will Result in Substantial Increases in Rail Shipment of
                           Radioactive Materials                                                     53
                         Historically Low Spent Nuclear Fuel Shipment Volumes Make Risk
                           Assessment from Increased Shipments Difficult                             56
          Appendix V:    Emergency Response Procedures and Available Resources to
                         Assist Local First Responders                                               61
                         General Procedures for Emergency Response                                   61
                         Multiple Federal Plans and Agencies Provide Additional Resources
                           to Address Hazardous Material Incidents                                   62
                         Federal Agencies Provide a Variety of Assistance for Responding to
                           and Improving Preparedness for Hazardous Material Rail
                           Incidents                                                                 66
                         Private Organizations Also Play a Role in Emergency Response to
                           Hazardous Material Incidents                                              71
                         Multiple Standards and Guidelines of Preparedness Exist                     72
         Appendix VI:    Letter from the Federal Railroad Administration, May 28,
                         2003                                                                        76
         Appendix VII:   GAO Response to Federal Railroad Administration Letter                      78


Tables                   Table 1: NFPA Levels of Professional Competence for First
                                  Responders to Hazardous Materials Incidents                        30
                         Table 2: 1997 Hazardous Materials Shipped by Tons and Ton-miles
                                                                                                     46
                         Table 3: Rail Shipments as Percentage of Hazardous Material
                                  Shipments by All Transportation Modes by Hazard Class
                                  and Division, 1997                                                 49
                         Table 4: The Top 20 Hazardous Materials Shipped by Rail by
                                  Volume, 1998–2001                                                  50
                         Table 5: Transport of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel,
                                  1979–1996                                                          54
                         Table 6: Federal Agencies Involved in Emergency Response to
                                  Hazardous Material Incidents                                       66




                         Page ii                                     GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
          Contents




          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)                                   68
          Table 8: Hazardous Material Emergency Response Assistance and
                    Grants Provided by the Department of Transportation’s
                    Research and Special Programs Administration                     68
          Table 9: Hazardous Material Emergency Response and Assistance
                    Grants Provided by the Department of Homeland
                    Security’s Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and
                    Response                                                         69
          Table 10: Hazardous Material Emergency Response Assistance and
                    Grants Provided by the Department of Health and Human
                    Services                                                         70
          Table 11: Hazardous Material Emergency Response Assistance and
                    Grants Provided by the Department of Energya                     70


Figures   Figure 1: Photos of Rail Facilities                                        14
          Figure 2: Components of a Risk Management Approach to Defend
                    Against Terrorism                                                18
          Figure 3: Tons of Hazardous Materials Shipped by Rail,
                    1998–2001                                                        47




          Page iii                                   GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
Contents




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



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Page iv                                                GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
A
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548



                                    April 30, 2003                                                                                 Leter




                                    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.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


                                    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.




                                    Page 1                                                 GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                   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



                   Page 2                                          GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
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



Page 3                                          GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
             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
             Response2 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




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




             Page 4                                               GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
is capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property
when transported in commerce.3 It includes hazardous substances such as
ammonia, hazardous wastes from chemical manufacturing processes, and
elevated temperature materials such as molten aluminum.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.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.6 When measured in ton-miles,7
hazardous materials shipped by rail are nearly equivalent to hazardous
materials transported by road and water.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,


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.




Page 5                                                   GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
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.9 A second proposal to ship spent
nuclear fuel to temporary storage in a private facility in Utah has
heightened these concerns.10 Such shipments would substantially increase
the volume of nuclear material transported in this country.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


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.




Page 6                                                    GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
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.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.




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.




Page 7                                                 GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
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.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


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.




Page 8                                                   GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
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.




Page 9                                        GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
Industry Has Taken          The railroad and chemical industries have taken a number of steps to
                            enhance the security of transportation of hazardous materials. Some of
Steps to Address the        these measures include the development of a rail security plan and an
Security of                 increase in security measures at some facilities. According to TSA officials,
                            while much of TSA’s resources have been focused on aviation security, TSA
Transportation of           has assumed its responsibility for transportation security in all modes of
Hazardous Materials by      transportation, including rail, and is beginning to develop an intermodal
Rail, but TSA Has Not       national transportation system security plan, which TSA officials consider
                            to be a major component of the National Strategy for Homeland Security.
Yet Developed and           Another TSA effort in this area involves the development of a
Implemented a Rail          memorandum of agreement with DOT’s Federal Aviation Administration,
Security Plan               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       Prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, railroad companies’
Developed a Security Plan   security efforts focused primarily on the prevention of theft at rail facilities.
                            Representatives of several major railroad companies told us that they had
and Taken Other Steps
                            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.




                            Page 10                                          GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
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.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;

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.




Page 11                                               GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
• 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,




Page 12                                        GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
   procedures were in place to check for tampering with the valves of tank
   cars transporting hazardous materials.




Page 13                                      GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
Figure 1: Photos of Rail Facilities




                                                   Observation tower at a
                                                   rail facility
Source: GAO.




                                                   Gated entrance at an
                                                   intermodal rail facility
Source: GAO.




                                                   Entrance to a rail facility
Source: DHS.




Page 14                               GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                              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   Since its creation in November 2001, TSA has primarily focused on
Rail Security                 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      TSA has taken some steps to address the security of hazardous material rail
to Address the Security of    shipments, including starting the development of an intermodal
                              transportation system security plan, establishing working relationships
Hazardous Material
                              with DOT’s modal administrations, and conducting an initial review of the
Transportation by Rail, but   rail industry’s own security rail plan. In March 2003, DHS launched
Has Not Yet Developed a       Operation Liberty Shield to help protect the nation’s infrastructure and
Rail Security Plan            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


                              Page 15                                         GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
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.



Page 16                                        GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and 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.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.




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).




Page 17                                               GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                              Figure 2: Components of a Risk Management Approach to Defend Against Terrorism



                                                                   Risk
                                                            Management Approach




                                               Threat            Vulnerability                 Criticality
                                             assessment          assessment                   assessment




                              Source: GAO.




Several Issues                Our discussions with federal and private sector hazardous material
                              transportation experts and local community officials identified several
Regarding the Safety          issues that, in their opinion, remain unresolved regarding the safe and
and Security of               secure transportation of hazardous materials by rail. These issues include
                              the need for measures to better safeguard hazardous materials stored in
Hazardous Materials           rail cars while awaiting delivery to a final destination—a practice
Transported by Rail           commonly referred to as “storage-in-transit”—the advisability of requiring
Remain Unresolved             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     The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, have raised concerns about the
and Security of Hazardous     exposure and vulnerability of hazardous materials stored in transit in
                              chemical rail cars on rail sidings and in rail yards. Emergency response
Materials Stored in Transit
                              officials in three of the locations we visited identified storage-in-transit as a
Have Not Yet Been Fully       safety and security concern for their communities.
Addressed
                              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



                              Page 18                                            GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                                   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         Although they could not provide documentation to support their beliefs,
Believe Some Shipments Stored      local government officials we interviewed in two locations stated that they
in Transit May Violate a Rule to   believed that, in some cases, shipments stored in transit in their local areas
Expedite Shipments                 might be in violation of DOT’s 48-hour rule16 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.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.



                                   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.”




                                   Page 19                                                 GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
FRA Is Beginning to Address        FRA officials recognize that the security concerns regarding storage-in-
Potential Safety and Security      transit have grown since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. From a
Issues Regarding Storage-in-       security standpoint, the officials said that new regulations for storage-in-
transit                            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          In addition to expressing concern about the safety and security of
Regulatory Oversight of the        hazardous materials stored in transit and their need for information on the
Safety and Security of Hazardous   types and quantities of these materials, a local official that we interviewed
Materials Stored in Transit        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.18


                                   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.




                                   Page 20                                                  GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
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.



Page 21                                         GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                              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               While chemical manufacturers are required to notify their communities of
Communities on the Type       the existence of hazardous materials at their facilities, the advisability of
                              requiring companies to notify local communities on the type and quantities
and Quantities of Hazardous
                              of materials stored in transit has not been similarly addressed by DOT.
Materials Stored in Transit   Based on their observations, local officials from two of the 10 jurisdictions
Has Not Been Addressed        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.




                              Page 22                                        GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
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 1986.19 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.




19
     P.L. 99-499.




Page 23                                         GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
Opinions Differ on        While differing opinions exist concerning the adequacy of hazardous
Adequacy of Hazardous     material shipment information currently provided to local communities, no
                          determination has been made at a federal level on the appropriate amount
Material Shipment         of information rail companies should be required to provide to
Information Provided to   communities regarding overall hazardous material shipments to enhance
Communities, but No       their emergency preparedness. Officials from five of the ten communities
Determination Has Been    that we visited said they did not need advance notification information on
Made on Appropriate       specific shipment types and quantities. Due to the high volume and variety
Amount of Disclosure      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.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



                          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.




                          Page 24                                              GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
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.




Page 25                                        GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
Most Localities Visited    Even though a host of voluntary standards and self-assessment tools are
                           available to assist localities in assessing aspects of their emergency
Report They Are            response capabilities, no standardized tool currently exists to objectively
Generally Prepared to      determine a locality’s level of preparedness to respond to hazardous
                           material incidents. As such, the localities that we visited provided
Respond to Hazardous       information on their preparedness based on their own self-assessments
Material Rail Incidents,   rather than on uniform national criteria. These localities took actions to
but Sufficiency of         prepare for and respond to hazardous material incidents based on self-
                           assessments formed from a variety of factors. For the most part, these
Actions Taken Cannot       localities said that they found themselves prepared to respond to
Be Determined              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.21



Case Study Findings Show   To assess local community capability to prepare for and respond to
Varying Preparedness       potential terrorist attacks or accidents involving rail shipments, we visited
                           10 localities in the United States. Each of these localities was judgmentally
Actions Taken by Local     selected based on at least one of following three criteria:
Communities
                           • 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


                           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.




                           Page 26                                               GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                                  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        Based on their own self-assessments, local fire department officials from
Most Locations Are Prepared to    most of the cities that we visited said that they are generally prepared to
Respond to Hazardous Materials    respond to a hazardous material incident. A few officials whom we
Incidents, but Not to Incidents   interviewed said that although their city is prepared to respond to a
Involving Radioactive Materials   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.




                                  Page 27                                       GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                               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 1982,22 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   Emergency response plans are in place at all the localities we visited. These
in Place at All Locations      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,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.




                               22
                                    42 U.S.C. § 10175(c).
                               23
                                    For hazardous material incidents, a locality’s fire department is the lead designated agency.




                               Page 28                                                     GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
Most Cities We Visited Have     More than half of the cities we visited have their own dedicated hazardous
Dedicated Hazardous Material    material teams to respond to incidents involving the release of hazardous
Teams and All Have Access to    materials, including those occurring at fixed facilities or in rail
Public Hazardous Material       transportation. These are all large or medium-sized cities.24 Cities that do
Teams                           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   Local fire department officials that we interviewed in all the locations we
Have at Least Some Hazardous    visited said that their fire department personnel have received at least
Material Response Training      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.




                                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.




                                Page 29                                                 GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
Table 1: NFPA Levels of Professional Competence for First Responders to Hazardous Materials Incidents

Level                         Definition
Awareness                     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.
Operational                   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.
Technician                    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.
Incident                      The highest level of competency developed by the NFPA for first responders to hazardous materials incidents. First
Commander                     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.


                                                                   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                                    Officials from more than half of the case study locations that we visited
Visited Have Conducted                                             said that they conducted response drills to prepare for hazardous material
Hazardous Material Response                                        incidents. These cities have had at least one hazardous material drill within
Drills and Cited Lessons Learned                                   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




                                                                   Page 30                                                                        GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                                 • 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     In addition to a firefighter’s standard turnout gear, several pieces of
Locations                        equipment are commonly used to respond to hazardous material
                                 incidents.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   Officials in half of the case study locations we visited told us that
Equipment Varies by Location     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


                                 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.




                                 Page 31                                                   GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                                    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    Officials from over half of the case study locations we visited said that they
Be Difficult to Access Because of   had difficulty accessing hazardous material response training opportunities
Personnel Funding Constraints       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                 With the development of a national homeland security strategy, DHS’ EP&R
Emergency Preparedness              Directorate has also recognized a need for the federal government to
                                    conduct an assessment of state emergency response preparedness levels
and Response Is Beginning
                                    that would allow it to determine a baseline to measure preparedness across
Work on a Baseline                  the country. Since most local emergency response standards and
Assessment Tool to                  procedures are voluntary in nature and states employ a wide variety of
Determine Preparedness              guides in their planning, the EP&R Directorate chose to adopt one of these
Levels                              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



                                    Page 32                                        GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                     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   To help meet the requirement to secure all modes of transportation under
                     the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, we recommend that the
Executive Action     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



                     Page 33                                        GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                      • 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   We provided the Departments of Defense, Energy, Health and Human
                      Services, Homeland Security, Justice, Labor, and Transportation, as well as
Our Evaluation        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



                      Page 34                                       GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
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




Page 35                                        GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
Appendix I

Scope and Methodology                                                                                    AA
                                                                                                          ppp
                                                                                                            ep
                                                                                                             ned
                                                                                                               n
                                                                                                               x
                                                                                                               id
                                                                                                                e
                                                                                                                x
                                                                                                                Iis




                        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


                        Page 36                                        GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                         Appendix I
                         Scope and Methodology




                         • 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.




                         Page 37                                       GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
Appendix I
Scope and Methodology




• 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



Page 38                                          GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
Appendix I
Scope and Methodology




of national rail flows within the United States, to determine flows of
hazardous materials by rail.1 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.2 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.



1
 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.
2
 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.




Page 39                                                GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
Appendix II

Oversight of Rail Shipments of Hazardous
Materials by the Department of
Transportation and Other Federal Agencies                                                                            Appendx
                                                                                                                           Ii




                      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   Two administrations within DOT—the Research and Special Programs
                      Administration (RSPA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)—have
Rail Safety and       responsibilities for developing regulations pertaining to the transportation
Security              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. 1

                      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


                      1
                       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.




                      Page 40                                                 GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                         Appendix II
                         Oversight of Rail Shipments of Hazardous
                         Materials by the Department of
                         Transportation and Other Federal Agencies




                         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       EPA has authority for implementing and enforcing legislation governing the
                         protection of public health and the environment against chemical and other
Facilities That Handle   polluting discharges and for abating and controlling pollution when spills
Hazardous Materials      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 1986,2 EPA helps
                         coordinate preparedness among federal, state, and local emergency
                         responders. The purpose of this act is to encourage and provide support for


                         2
                         P.L. 99-499.




                         Page 41                                        GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                          Appendix II
                          Oversight of Rail Shipments of Hazardous
                          Materials by the Department of
                          Transportation and Other Federal Agencies




                          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,3 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       The Occupational Safety and Health Act, administered by OSHA, requires
                          employers, including chemical and railroad companies, to provide safe
Safety of Plant Workers   workplaces. It requires that OSHA promulgate standards to protect the
and Emergency             safety and health of employees. Additionally, the statute and implementing
                          regulations require employers to, among other things, inform employees
Responders                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       Although DOT regulates the transportation of nuclear material, including
                          spent fuel, as hazardous material, NRC also regulates the transportation of
Shipments of Nuclear      nuclear material by its licensees. The primary role of NRC, under a
Material                  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



                          3
                          P.L. 84-159.




                          Page 42                                       GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                         Appendix II
                         Oversight of Rail Shipments of Hazardous
                         Materials by the Department of
                         Transportation and Other Federal Agencies




                         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,4 and the
                         Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended.5 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         DOD’s Military Traffic Management Command, which oversees the
                         shipments of DOD hazardous materials by rail companies and ensures that
Safety and Security of   they are shipped according to DOD’s safety and security standards,
Military Hazardous       requires that everyone participating in the shipment of hazardous materials
                         comply with the hazardous material regulations. This includes compliance
Material Shipments       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.




                         4
                         10 C.F.R. 71.
                         5
                         P.L. 83-703.




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Appendix III

Annual Hazardous Material Rail Shipments in
the United States                                                                                                     Appendx
                                                                                                                            iI




                        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. 1 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 ½ miles wide. The hazardous
                        material release affected approximately 15,000 people, causing one death
                        and more than 300 injuries.



Department of           The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) hazardous material regulations
                        classify hazardous materials into nine hazard classes. Among other things,
Transportation          the classification system helps communicate the hazards of these materials
Categorizes Hazardous   to emergency responders and transportation workers. The nine classes of
                        hazardous materials are
Materials by Nine
Classes                 • 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;


                        1
                         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.




                        Page 44                                                  GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                         Appendix III
                         Annual Hazardous Material Rail Shipments in
                         the United States




                         • 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   DOT estimates that there are over 800,000 shipments of hazardous
                         materials daily by all modes of transportation in quantities varying from
Shipments of             several ounces to many thousands of gallons. For comprehensive data
Hazardous Materials      related to flows of hazardous materials for all modes of transportation,
                         DOT and the Department of Commerce jointly conduct the Commodity
for Rail, Truck, and     Flow Survey (CFS). To examine the flow across modes, we used data from
Water are Similar by     the 1997 CFS, the most recently completed survey. We reviewed the
Ton-mile                 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.




                         Page 45                                        GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
Appendix III
Annual Hazardous Material Rail Shipments in
the United States




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

                                                  Tons                      Ton-miles
Mode                                       (thousands)          Percenta    (millions)        Percenta
All modes                                      1,565,196          100%        263,809            100%
Truck                                            869,796           56%         74,939              28%
Rail                                               96,626            6%        71,711              27%
Water                                            143,152             9%        68,212              26%
Air (includes truck and air)                             66        <1%              95             <1%
Pipelineb                                        432,075           28%             N/A              N/A
Multiple modes                                      6,022          <1%           3,061              1%
Other and unknown                                  17,459            2%          1,837              1%
Legend
N/A = These estimates were not published in the CFS because they did not meet publication
standards due to high sampling variability or other reasons. Some unpublished estimates can be
derived from other data published in this table. However, figures obtained in this manner are subject to
these same limitations.
Sources: GAO analysis of DOT and Department of Commerce data.
a
Percent figures may not add exactly due to rounding.
b
CFS data exclude most shipments of crude oil.


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.




Page 46                                                           GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
Appendix III
Annual Hazardous Material Rail Shipments in
the United States




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




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.




Page 47                                                     GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                     Appendix III
                     Annual Hazardous Material Rail Shipments in
                     the United States




Rail Shipments       When data from the 1997 CFS is examined according to hazard classes and
                     across transportation modes, it becomes clear that, despite accounting for
Represent a Much     only 6 percent of the overall hazardous material tonnage and 27 percent of
Higher Share 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
Volume for Some      flammable liquids, such as gasoline and diesel fuel, in hazardous material
Hazardous Material   shipments.2 When the commodities are looked at individually, the large
Classes              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.




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




                     Page 48                                                GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                                                       Appendix III
                                                       Annual Hazardous Material Rail Shipments in
                                                       the United States




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

                                                                                                        Tons           Tons      Ton-miles      Ton-miles
Classa                Division      Hazard divisiona                                             (thousands)       (percent)     (millions)      (percent)
1-Explosives                                                                                               N/A            N/A            N/A           N/A
                              1.1   Explosives with a mass explosion hazard                                N/A            N/A            N/A           N/A
                              1.2   Explosives with a projection hazard                                     <1          < 1%             <1           < 1%
                              1.3   Explosives with predominantly a fire hazard                             <1          < 1%             <1           < 1%
                              1.4   Explosives with no significant blast hazard                            N/A            N/A            N/A           N/A
                              1.5   Very insensitive explosives, blasting agents                            <1          < 1%             <1           < 1%
2-Gases                                                                                                 15,203           13%         11,447            52%
                              2.1   Flammable gases                                                      6,362           10%           4,671           50%
                              2.2   Nonflammable, nontoxic compressed gases                              3,075             8%          1,836           25%
                              2.3   Gases toxic by inhalation                                            5,766           59%           4,940           95%
3-Flammable liquids                                                                                     26,642             2%        19,548            12%
4-Flammable solids                                                                                       6,477           55%           8,639           90%
                              4.1   Flammable solids                                                     5,904           58%           7,815           93%
                              4.2   Spontaneously combustible materials                                    390           46%             613           82%
                              4.3   Dangerous when wet materials                                           183           22%             211           50%
5-Oxidizers and organic peroxides                                                                        3,182           34%           2,820           63%
6-Toxic (poison)                                                                                         1,949           31%           1,446           51%
7-Radioactive materials                                                                                    N/A            N/A            N/A           N/A
8-Corrosive materials                                                                                   24,427           27%         16,998            41%
9-Miscellaneous dangerous goods                                                                         18,334           28%         13,064            58%
Total                                                                                                   96,626             6%        74,711            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.




                                                       Page 49                                                      GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                                                 Appendix III
                                                 Annual Hazardous Material Rail Shipments in
                                                 the United States




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

                                                                                               Estimated
                                                                                                     total    Estimated average annual
Hazardous materials                                                                             carloadsa           number of carloads
1. Freight forwarder trafficb                                                                  1,188,109                          297,027
2. All freight rate shipments, not elsewhere coded (NEC), or trailer on flat car
shipments, commercial, except where identified by commodity                                      716,177                         179,044
3. Sulfur liquid or molten nonmetallic minerals except fuels                                     273,005                           68,251
4. Liquefied petroleum gas, NEC, compressed                                                      253,234                           63,308
5. Sodium (soda), caustic (sodium hydroxide)                                                     236,455                           59,114
6. Asphalt pitches or tars, from petroleum, coal tar, coke oven, or natural gas                  222,163                           55,541
7. Sulfuric acid or oil of vitriol                                                               200,875                           50,219
8. Ammonia, anhydrous                                                                            163,057                           40,764
9. Chlorine gas, liquefied                                                                       128,600                           32,150
10. Gasolines, blended, consisting of motor fuels containing 50% or more of
gasolinesc                                                                                        97,192                           24,298
11. Ethyl alcohol, anhydrous denatured in part with petroleum products and/or
chemicals (not to exceed 5%)                                                                      95,333                           23,833
12. Phosphatic fertilizer solution, containing not more than 77% of phosphoric
anhydride by weight                                                                               90,779                           22,695
13. Chemicals, NEC                                                                                86,854                           21,713
14. Vinyl chloride (chloroethane or chloroethylene)                                               73,033                           18,258
15. Methanol (methyl or wood alcohol) liquid                                                      67,903                           16,976
16. Propane gas, liquefied                                                                        65,702                           16,425
17. Carbon dioxide gas, liquefied, or carbonic acid gas                                           63,020                           15,755
18. Ammonium nitrate fertilizer                                                                   62,563                           15,641




                                                 Page 50                                               GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                                    Appendix III
                                    Annual Hazardous Material Rail Shipments in
                                    the United States




(Continued From Previous Page)
                                                                                         Estimated
                                                                                               total       Estimated average annual
Hazardous materials                                                                       carloadsa              number of carloads
19. Muriatic (hydrochloric) acid                                                             58,165                                14,541
20. Styrene (liquid)                                                                         55,910                                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.




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

DOD Hazardous Materials             From 1997 to 2001, MTMC shipped 728,000 tons of hazardous materials by
Rail Shipments Include              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
Arms, Ammunition,                   DOD hazardous materials are shipped on dedicated trains, more often they
Explosives, Spent Nuclear           are shipped in one- or two-car shipments and attached to trains with other
Fuel, and Other Materials           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



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                                Appendix III
                                Annual Hazardous Material Rail Shipments in
                                the United States




                                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           DOE ships its own radioactive waste material shipments, including low-
Waste Materials from Its        level radioactive material, transuranic waste, and spent nuclear fuel.3
                                Within DOE, the Office of Environmental Management coordinates policies
Own Operations by Rail
                                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            According to Nuclear Regulatory Commission statistics, approximately 2
Spent Nuclear Fuel              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
Shipments Is Expected to        proposed private fuel storage facility in Utah is licensed for operation and
Increase Substantially if the   will increase again if the proposed Yucca Mountain Repository is approved.
Yucca Mountain Repository       Total shipments of spent nuclear fuel to the private fuel storage facility are
Is Approved                     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.




                                3
                                 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.




                                Page 52                                               GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
Appendix IV

Safety and Security Issues Posed by Possible
Future Rail Shipments of Spent Nuclear Fuel                                                                         Appendx
                                                                                                                          iIV




Proposed Private Fuel   If the proposed Yucca Mountain Repository in Nevada is licensed and
                        begins operation, the number of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) shipments by rail
Storage and Yucca       would greatly increase in the future. Even without the operation of Yucca
Mountain Repository     Mountain, there may be a substantial increase in the shipment of SNF from
                        private efforts to ship and temporarily store SNF.
Plans Will Result in
Substantial Increases   The most common method for storing SNF is in dry or wet fuel storage
in Rail Shipment of     facilities on-site at nuclear plants. Some plants, however, are concerned
                        about reaching full capacity for storage on-site and the ongoing expense
Radioactive Materials   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,1 proposed for Yucca Mountain.2 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.




                        1
                         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.
                        2
                        42 U.S.C. § 10222.




                        Page 53                                                GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                                Appendix IV
                                Safety and Security Issues Posed by Possible
                                Future Rail Shipments of Spent Nuclear Fuel




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

                                                                      Metric tons                          Average metric
                                Mode                                 of spent fuel   Shipments          tons per shipment
                                Rail                                        1,057          147                          7.2
                                Truck                                         356        1,172                          0.3
                                Total                                       1,413        1,319                          1.1
                                Source: Congressional Research Service.




DOE Estimates That 70,000       The proposed Yucca Mountain Repository in Nevada would be the largest
Metric Tons of SNF Would        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
Be Shipped to the Proposed      preparations for these shipments have been under way for some time.
Yucca Mountain National         According to DOE’s Environmental Impact Statement for Yucca Mountain,
Repository over a 24-Year       approximately 70,000 metric tons of SNF would be shipped to the
Period                          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.3 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         The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has endorsed the use of
Railroads Endorses the Use of   dedicated trains for shipments of SNF to Yucca Mountain. Dedicated trains
Dedicated Trains for SNF        would allow shipments to travel from origin to destination as quickly as
Shipments to Yucca Mountain     possible, thereby minimizing exposure en route and time spent in rail


                                3
                                 A cask is a hardened container designed specifically for holding SNF. NRC certifies cask
                                designs.




                                Page 54                                                 GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                               Appendix IV
                               Safety and Security Issues Posed by Possible
                               Future Rail Shipments of Spent Nuclear Fuel




                               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     In order to gain additional storage capacity for SNF, a consortium of eight
Nuclear Fuel by Private Fuel   private utility companies, called Private Fuel Storage (PFS), LLC, working
                               with the Skull Valley Band of the Goshute tribe, is pursuing a storage
Storage, LLC, Would Also       facility on tribal land. The Goshute reservation is located approximately 50
Result in a Substantial        miles west of Salt Lake City, Utah. This proposed storage facility would
Increase in Shipments          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 repository were 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.4

                               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.




                               4
                                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.




                               Page 55                                                  GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
                         Appendix IV
                         Safety and Security Issues Posed by Possible
                         Future Rail Shipments of Spent Nuclear Fuel




Historically Low Spent   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
Nuclear Fuel Shipment    those proposed for shipment to the Yucca Mountain Repository and PFS.
Volumes Make Risk        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
Assessment from          Repository and PFS.
Increased Shipments
Difficult                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.5
                         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.




                         5
                          NUREG/CR-6672, Reexamination of Spent Fuel Shipment Risk Estimates, March 2000,
                         which is also discussed in this appendix.




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Studies Suggest That There      Past federal studies have examined risks to the safety of the shipment of
is a Low Probability of         SNF and suggest that there is a low probability of accidental release of
                                radiation during its transportation. To address safety issues associated with
Accidental Release of           the shipment of SNF, NRC sponsored a series of studies to develop a
Radiation during                predictive model of shipment risk. These include a study conducted by the
Transportation of Spent         Livermore National Laboratory. In addition, we convened a National
Nuclear Fuel                    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   The Livermore National Laboratory “Modal Study,” completed in 1987 and
Study                           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



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                                 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     Experts at the GAO-sponsored National Academy of Sciences panel on the
Panel Expressed Confidence in    safety and security of hazardous material rail shipments also expressed
the Safety and Security of       that the risks of the transport of SNF were low relative to the risks of
Hazardous Material Rail          transporting other hazardous materials. An AAR representative at the
Shipments                        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   In the aftermath of the July 2001 incident in the Howard Street Tunnel in
Safety Issues Regarding the      Baltimore, Radioactive Waste Management Associates prepared a study
Transportation of SNF Casks      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



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                             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.6 NRC concluded in its report that, for a spent nuclear fuel
                             transportation cask approved under NRC rules for packaging and
                             transportation of radioactive materials7 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   Since the 1970s, DOE and NRC have conducted several studies of the effect
Posed by the Substantial     of sabotage on the transportation of SNF. These studies found that a
                             successful sabotage attack on spent nuclear fuel being transported would
Increase in Future SNF       have a limited effect on human health. A study published by DOE’s Sandia
Shipments and Potential      National Laboratory in 1999 confirmed earlier studies that, under certain
New Threats for These        worst-case scenarios, NRC-certified transportation containers could be
Shipments Are Being          penetrated by armor-piercing weapons and release small quantities of
Studied                      radioactive materials.8

                             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


                             6
                              NUREG/CR-6799, Analysis of Rail Car Components Exposed to a Tunnel Fire
                             Environment, March 2003.
                             7
                             10 C.F.R. 71.
                             8
                              Sandia National Laboratories, Projected Source Terms for Potential Sabotage Events
                             Related to Spent Fuel Shipments, SAND99-0963 (Albuquerque, New Mexico: 1999).




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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.




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Appendix V

Emergency Response Procedures and
Available Resources to Assist Local First
Responders                                                                                                          Append
                                                                                                                         x
                                                                                                                         i
                                                                                                                         V




General Procedures for   The recognized method for managing an emergency response is the
                         incident command system, an on-site management system applicable to all
Emergency Response       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.1 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

                         1
                          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.




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                         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   Three federal response plans address emergencies involving hazardous
                         material releases during rail transport: the Federal Response Plan, the
and Agencies Provide     National Contingency Plan (part of the National Response System), and the
Additional Resources     Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan. These plans all involve
                         multiple federal agencies in their administration. The primary federal
to Address Hazardous     agencies with a role in emergency response for hazardous material
Material Incidents       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.




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Federal Response Plan       The Federal Response Plan is an all hazard response plan carried out by the
Addresses All Types of      DHS EP&R Directorate and 26 other partner federal organizations. The
                            plan provides the mechanism for delivery of federal assistance and
Hazards                     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        The objective of the Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan, also
Emergency Response Plan     published by DHS’ EP&R Directorate, is to establish an organized and
                            integrated capability for a timely, coordinated response by federal agencies
Coordinates Federal
                            to peacetime radiological emergencies. According to the plan, the lead
Response to Radiological    federal agency for incidents involving the transportation of radioactive
Emergencies                 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. 2



National Contingency Plan   The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan,
Addresses Oil Spills and    more commonly called the National Contingency Plan, is the federal
                            government's plan for responding to both oil spills and hazardous
Hazardous Substance
                            substance releases. The lead federal agencies for responding to hazardous
Releases                    substance releases under the National Contingency Plan are EPA for inland



                            2
                             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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                                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   The National Response Team’s membership consists of 16 federal agencies
Three Organizational Levels:    with expertise in various aspects of emergency response to pollution
National Response Team,         incidents. EPA serves as the chair agency and the USCG serves as the vice-
Regional Response Teams, and    chair agency of the National Response Team. The team is a national
On scene Coordinators           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



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                                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    The National Contingency Plan is a component of the National Response
Part of the National Response   System, a structure for preparedness and response to oil and hazardous
System to Prepare and Respond   material incidents that has been in place for over 30 years. The National
to Oil and Hazardous Material   Response System consists of a network of interagency coordinating groups
Incidents                       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.




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Federal Agencies                             Many federal agencies are responsible for providing either on-scene
                                             response assistance or offering technical expertise in the event of a
Provide a Variety of                         hazardous material rail incident. As discussed above, many of these
Assistance for                               agencies play a role in the administration of federal response plans. Table 6
                                             lists the agencies responsible for providing either on-scene assistance or
Responding to and                            technical expertise in the event of a hazardous material rail incident and
Improving                                    outlines their roles.
Preparedness for
Hazardous Material
Rail Incidents


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

Agency          Role
DHS             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

                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.

                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.
DOT             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.




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(Continued From Previous Page)
Agency                  Role
EPA                     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.
DOE                     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.
NRC                     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.
OSHA                    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).


                                                              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.




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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)              Assistance program                                                                                            FY 2002
numbera                        grant title                 Purpose                                                                           fundingb
16.007                         State Domestic              Funding provided to states to plan for and execute a comprehensive   $481 million
                               Preparedness                threat and needs assessment to develop a three-year plan to enhance
                               Equipment Support           first responder capabilities, and to provide for equipment purchases
                               Program                     and the provision of specialized training.
16.008                         Domestic Preparedness Funding to train state and local jurisdictions to respond to weapons of $62 million
                               Training and Technical mass destruction domestic terrorist incidents, involving nuclear,
                               Assistance Program     biological, chemical, and explosive devices
16.580                                                     Organizations, rather than state and local entities, are the one-time  $17 million
16.597                                                     recipients of these funds. Grants are used for a multitude of purposes
16.599c                                                    including, but not limited to, meetings to share best practices and
                                                           facilitate discussion on public and private partnerships.
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.




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

                          Assistance program                                                                                                 FY 2002
CFDA Number               grant title                      Purpose                                                                           funding
20.703                    Hazardous material           Intended to provide financial and technical assistance as well as          $13.05 millionb
                          emergency preparedness       national direction and guidance to enhance state, territorial, tribal, and
                          training and planning grants 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
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.




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

                           Assistance program                                                                                                   FY 2002
CFDA number                grant title                                Purpose                                                                   funding
83.012                     Hazardous materials                        Provides technical and financial assistance through the states to       $264,000
                           assistance program                         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.
83.547                     First responder counter-      Designed to enhance the capabilities of first responders in managing                   $4 million
                           terrorism training assistance the consequences of terrorist acts.

83.552                     Emergency management                       Designed to develop comprehensive emergency management,                   $134 million
                           performance grants                         including terrorism consequence management preparedness, at the
                                                                      state and local levels and to improve emergency planning,
                                                                      preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery capabilities.
83.554                     Assistance to firefighters                 Designed to enhance abilities with respect to fire and fire-related       $144 million
                           grant                                      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.


83.009                     Hazardous                                  Provides guidance and technical assistance to state and major             $1.5 million
83.010                     materials/weapons of mass                  metropolitan training departments on managing and implementing
                           destruction (WMD) training                 hazardous material and WMD responder training. Purpose is to
                           standards and requirements                 improve the quality of hazardous material/WMD responder training
                           guidance and training                      nationally and the cost-effectiveness of state and local use of federal
                           quality control technical                  training funds in hazardous material and WMD response training.
                           assistance
                           (under interagency
                           agreement with DOT)
83.527                     Hazardous materials/WMD                    The National Fire Academy and the Emergency Management Institute $1.2 million
83.530                     responder                                  offer complete and definitive curricula for all facets of local responder
                           training                                   training for hazardous material and WMD incidents.
                           curriculum
83.549                     Chemical stockpile                         To enhance emergency preparedness capabilities of the states and     $82 million
                           emergency preparedness                     local communities at each of the chemical agent stockpile storage
                           program                                    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.
83.562                     FY 2002 supplemental                       Provide funding assistance to state and local governments to update $181 million
83.563                     grants for state and local                 their emergency operations plans for all hazards with special
83.564                     preparedness                               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.
Sources: GAO analysis of DHS, CFDA, and National Volunteer Fire Council data.




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

                          Assistance program                                                                                             FY 2002
CFDA number               grant title                     Purpose                                                                        funding
93.003                    Metropolitan Medical            Provides assistance to U.S. cities, via contracts, to prepare for a rapid, $10 million
                          Response System Program         coordinated medical response to large-scale public emergencies. The
                          (part of the Public Health      contracts enable cities to coordinate emergency first responders,
                          and Social Services             public health systems, and hospitals to better respond to the needs of
                          Emergency Fund)                 their citizens in times of crisis.
93.204                    Surveillance of hazardous       To assist state health departments in developing a state-based       $1.5 million
                          substance emergency             surveillance system to monitor hazardous substance emergency
                          events                          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.
Sources: GAO analysis of HHS and CFDA data.




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

                          Assistance program grant                                                                                       FY 2002
CFDA Number               title                    Purpose                                                                               funding
81.106                    Transport of Transuranic        Financial assistance is provided to support cooperation among the      $3.2 million
                          wastes to the Waste             tribes, the southern, western, and midwestern states on the Waste
                          Isolation Pilot Plant: States   Isolation Pilot Plant corridors, and DOE in developing plans and
                          and tribal concerns,            procedures for the safe and uneventful transportation of transuranic
                          proposed solutions              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.
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.




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                           Emergency Response Procedures and
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Private Organizations      Rail and chemical companies, both through their member organizations
                           and individually, participate in a variety of outreach efforts to better
Also Play a Role in        prepare local emergency responders for hazardous material transportation
Emergency Response         incidents. Key private efforts include the Transportation Community
                           Awareness Emergency Response Program (TRANSCAER), the Chemical
to Hazardous Material      Transportation Emergency Center (CHEMTREC), and the Operation
Incidents                  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   The American Chemistry Council; the Association of American Railroads;
Awareness Response         Chemical Education Foundation; National Tank Truck Carriers, Inc.; and
                           the Chlorine Institute sponsor the TRANSCAER program to provide
Program Helps Prepare
                           support to communities in preparation for transportation emergencies
Local Communities for      involving hazardous materials. TRANSCAER is supported through sponsor
Hazardous Material         resources as well as monetary and in-kind contributions. TRANSCAER
Transportation Incidents   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          CHEMTREC is a public service of the chemistry industry that provides
Response Information Is    services to shippers of hazardous materials, including a 24-hour, 7-day a
                           week emergency call center that provides emergency response information
Available to First
                           in the event of a hazardous material incident. CHEMTREC was established
Responders                 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.




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First Responders Can          The rail transportation industry supports OREIS, a software system
Access Database of Rail       designed for use in passenger train and hazardous material incidents that
                              connects first responders to the databases of railroad and motor carriers to
Carriers in the Event of a    allow them to obtain information quickly and accurately on the specific
Hazardous Material Incident   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           In addition to the industry-wide outreach initiatives discussed above,
Chemical Shipping             individual rail and chemical shipping companies work with local
                              communities to develop preparedness for hazardous material incidents.
Companies Participate in
                              For example, rail company officials that we interviewed said that they
Local Emergency Response      participated in preparedness drills, provided communities with emergency
Activities                    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        A variety of standards and self-assessment tools are available for local
                              communities to address their own preparedness needs for hazardous
Guidelines of                 material incidents. Some standards are focused on general emergency
Preparedness Exist            preparedness, while others are specific to preparing for and responding to
                              hazardous material incidents or weapons of mass destruction events.



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                           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   The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is an international
Association Standards      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.



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Occupational Safety and      The OSHA Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response
Health Administration        Standard establishes worker protection standards for emergency
                             responders to hazardous material incidents. The standard provides
Worker Protection Standard
                             • procedures for handling emergency response,

                             • training requirements (including refresher training), and

                             • procedures for postemergency response operation.



EPA Hazardous Material       EPA’s hazardous material team-planning guidance provides assistance to
Team Planning Guidance       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              In order to receive grant funds from DHS’ Office of Domestic Preparedness
Destruction Vulnerability    (which was formerly part of the Department of Justice) for weapons of
                             mass destruction (WMD) preparedness, states are required to complete a
Assessment and Training      vulnerability assessment to benchmark a current vulnerability profile with
Standards                    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     HHS has developed a three-volume series of guidelines entitled Managing
Hazardous Materials          Hazardous Materials Incidents to help emergency response and health
                             care professionals plan for and respond to hazardous material
Incidents
                             emergencies. Volumes I and II are generic planning guides to assist first
                             responders and hospital personnel to plan for incidents that involve



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                              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   In 1996, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations asked the Federal
for Readiness                 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          The Emergency Management Accreditation Program is a voluntary
Accreditation Program         accreditation process for state and local programs responsible for disaster
                              mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. An independent team of
Standards
                              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.




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Appendix VI

Letter from the Federal Railroad
Administration, May 28, 2003                                         AppenV
                                                                          d
                                                                          xiI




               Page 76             GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
Appendix VI
Letter from the Federal Railroad
Administration, May 28, 2003




Page 77                            GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
Appendix VII

GAO Response to Federal Railroad
Administration Letter                                            AppenV
                                                                      d
                                                                      xiI




               Page 78         GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
           Appendix VII
           GAO Response to Federal Railroad
           Administration Letter




(545010)   Page 79                            GAO-03-435 Rail Safety and Security
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