Senators revive transportation security legislation
On the first day of the 110th Congress, several senators Thursday introduced legislation to address what they say are security gaps in railroads, trucking, pipelines and hazardous material transportation.
The Surface Transportation and Rail Security Act of 2007 is essentially identical to provisions that were stripped out of the SAFE Port Act last fall for reasons having to do with committee jurisdiction and germaneness.
Many parts of the bill have been considered by the Senate and passed during the last session, including grants for freight railroads and others to upgrade security. The bill also requires the Transportation Security Administration to conduct a railroad sector risk assessment and submit prioritized recommendations for improving rail security. It also requires railroads to create a railroad worker security-training program and threat mitigation plans for shipping certain hazardous materials.
The bill also requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to provide guidance to motor carriers and states regarding hazardous materials routing, and to assess the addition of certain hazardous materials to the list of existing hazmat required to be transported by motor carriers with highway routing plans.
The bill also requires the Department of Homeland Security to develop a program to encourage trucks carrying hazardous materials to be equipped with communications and tracking technology and directs the department to assess the feasibility of developing a national public sector response system for transportation communication alerts.
The legislation also would establish a program to review and enforce hazardous materials security plans for shippers of hazardous materials.
The key sponsors of the bill are Sens. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, the new chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.; and Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.