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U.S. Coast Guard Annual

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Getting onboard the

Regulatory Train

Rail transport activists, analysts and environmentalists get a real taste of what the waterfront has endured

Joseph Keefe is the lead commentator of for decades. They’ll just have to get in line with the rest of us.

his week ? nds the collective The late Tip O’Neill, a Massachusetts you can do an end run around the U.S. – either through the inland river system domestic oil industry wringing Congressman and long time Speaker Coast Guard. Such was the case with the or the Great Lakes. At this point, remov- its hands about the latest in a of the U.S. House of Representatives, ruling on the small passenger vessel out ing rail completely from the equation

Tseries of serious oil transport coined the now familiar phrase, “All of water survival craft. The nation’s 25th isn’t altogether possible, but minimizing train casualties. This time, on Monday, politics is local.” He could just as eas- Commandant, at a recent West Coast its role in the transport mix certainly is.

the news involved a crude-carrying train ily have been talking about ballast wa- speech, distanced himself and the Coast When I hear about a train traveling that derailed in West Virginia, complete ter treatment standards, since we have Guard from pending federal legislation through West Virginia on its way to with more than one dozen tank cars a? re at least 15 Balkanized state statutes, a that would change the equipment and Hampton Roads, VA, laden with crude and necessitating the evacuation of near- pending Coast Guard standard and an- the methods that small passenger ves- oil, no one can tell me that there isn’t by towns. Just before that, another train other issued by the International Mari- sels would be required to handle rescue a river, canal or waterway nearby that in Canada consisting of about 100 tank time Organization (IMO) that has yet to situations underway. The proposed new could do the trick, just as well, a lot more cars carrying crude oil derailed in remote be globally rati? ed because not enough rules, which he said had circumvented safely and probably with less expense.

Ontario and suffered a similar fate. Both tonnage and/or ? ag states have signed up the Coast Guard, could cost vessel op- Beyond this, The American Waterways events naturally caught the attention of for it. erators hundreds of thousands of dollars Operators says that just one 15-barge environmental and safety activists and And, yet, it was more than ten years for new, out of water survival craft. Be- tow takes the place of 216 rail cars and oil industry analysts. ago when the Commander of the U.S. yond this, the proposed regulations – a six locomotives, or more than a thousand

Also this week, Reuters analyst John Coast Guard’s Ninth District (Great hot button issue for PVA stakeholders – semi-tractor trailers.

Kemp penned a column that chronicled Lakes) told me that “there was no higher wouldn’t necessarily improve safety. Think of the congestion that would the “high-stakes risks” that the use of priority in the Coast Guard’s pending Reuters also points out that “serious be eliminated. Add to that the reduction rail for crude oil transport represents. regulatory agenda than the ballast water incidents involving crude-carrying trains in stack emissions represented by barge

First lamenting the 591 (now 593) days treatment rules.” Arguably, we haven’t posing a signi? cant threat to life, prop- transport when compared to its modal that have passed since a train high pro- gotten very far since then. erty and the environment are occurring cousins in rail, and one has to wonder ? le crude train derailed and devastated The effort to implement the subchap- on average once every seven weeks.” what industry and the government is a small town in Quebec, Kemp also cor- ter M towboat rules, intended to ad- And, they list (between 2006 and April waiting for. rectly points out that in that time, the U.S. dress a previously uninspected subset 2014) 16 signi? cant accidents involving The latest casualties have reignited

Department of Transportation (DOT) of inland vessels, has also languished high-hazard trains carrying crude oil or the debate about the safety of these ship- has failed to ? nalize new safety rules for for more than a decade. Championed ethanol, involving 281 tank cars derailed ments, especially given the perceived tank cars and operational standards for by unprecedented industry support and and nearly 5 million gallons of crude or heightened ? ammability of the light trains carrying ? ammable liquids. And guidance from the American Waterways ethanol released, as well as 48 fatalities, North Dakota Bakken shale oil and the yet, what we see here is nothing new for Operators, the national advocate for the according to the U.S. National Trans- dated designs of older tankcars. In real- the domestic waterfront. Frankly, it is U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge indus- portation Safety Board (NTSB). John ity, imported crude oils with character- just a familiar way of life. try, there is probably no other rulemak- Kemp says, “No other industry would istics every bit as dangerous as the Bak-

Eventually, some say it could take six ing in play that has more support from be allowed to tolerate such an appalling ken blend have been safely transported years or more for regulators to ? nalize the folks it will eventually oversee. Even safety record.” He’s right. on the nation’s waterways for decades.

and implement the new standards. Kemp this can’t speed its ? nal rule along, ap- The solution, say shippers and rail ad- As rail safety and environmental ad- characterizes that lack of progress as “an parently. Industry stakeholders had high vocates alike, is to phase out the current vocates clamor for quick reforms, they astonishing example of regulatory fail- hopes that the rule would be signed off rail cars in use and replace them with (understandably) grow increasingly ure.” And while I don’t think too many on by former Commandant ADM Bob modern versions that carry the same frustrated at the lack of progress. I have would argue with him on that score, Papp before he departed last year. No safety features as those commonly found some advice for them: they can get in looking out on the water, these kinds of such luck. And, current Coast Guard on today’s inland barges and larger tank- line with the rest of us on the waterfront, rulemakings can span decades. Take, for leadership won’t give a timetable under ships. or better yet, they can refocus their col- example, ballast water management and/ ADM Zukunft’s tenure. And, so it goes. Actually, it isn’t rocket science. And lective energies on something smarter: or the so-called subchapter “M” towboat On the other hand, it seems like if you the answer is even simpler: move the car- moving the crude oil off the rails and rules. REALLY want to get something done, goes onto the water as soon as is possible onto the water (not in it). 8 Maritime Reporter & Engineering News • MARCH 2015

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