CSX asks STB to block D.C. hazmat ban
CSX Transportation, a major Eastern railroad, filed an emergency petition Monday requesting the U.S. Surface Transportation Board use its federal authority to preempt the District of Columbia from banning the transport of certain highly toxic hazardous material shipments through the city and permit CSX to continue operations.
The move comes after the city council voted last week to force the CSX to reroute the most dangerous chemicals around the city, but before Mayor Anthony Williams has signed the emergency legislation into law. Supporters of the bill say the CSX line passes close to the U.S. Capitol and that terrorists could target chemical tank cars to release toxic chemicals in the air and kill thousands of people.
The railroad, which opted for regulatory relief rather than seek a court injunction, said the federal government has the sole power to regulate interstate commerce.
“Enforcement of the D.C. ordinance would invite other local jurisdictions to enact similar measures that could bring to a halt the interstate shipment of critically important materials throughout the United States,” the petition said.
CSX asked the board to act quickly to prevent the disruption of rail service on the mid-Atlantic corridor. The bill would force the railroad to send shipments hundreds of miles out of route to avoid the District and disrupt the entire network, CSX said.