Demand Trains Limit Amount of Hazardous Chemicals Carried

Target: Edward R. Hamberger, CEO of Association of American Railroads

Goal: Minimize amount of toxic chemicals allowed on board each rail car

Railway trains are the most economically efficient way to transport chemicals and have a much lower chance of chemical explosions due to accidents than big rigs. Although efficient, the volume of chemicals piled into the trains is a major safety issue in terms of train crashes and accidents. Sixty four percent of the 189 billion tons transported by train per year are labeled “Toxic Inhalation Hazards,” the world’s most explosive and deadly chemicals. The large amount of chemicals allowed on board gives way to devastating explosions and can kill within a wide radius simply from chemical inhalation.

Recently 15 train cars carrying paper bleaching agents derailed in Baltimore, collapsing several buildings and causing mass explosions. In 2006 a major chemical explosion in South Carolina killed nine, left 250 needing treatment for chlorine exposure, and left 5,600 residents evacuated for weeks because of the harmful breathing conditions. A 2012 New Jersey chemical spill left the air foggy with vinyl chloride and sent 18 people to the hospital for breathing difficulties. There are an average of 3,000 train accidents per year, leaving a large question mark as to where and how large the next chemical explosion will occur.

The Association of American Railroads represents the major freight railroads of North America and works closely with politicians to make sure they play by their own rules. The trade group addressed Congress, saying, “We want to decide for ourselves whether to accept, and at what price we are willing to accept, such materials for transportation.” Environment and safety are top priorities according to AAR press releases and its website, but the sheer volume of deadly chemicals being carried on a single freight train says otherwise. Demand the Association of American Railroads limits the amount of Toxic Inhalation Hazards allowed on board a single freight and help prevent major explosions, death, and environmental degradation.


Dear Association of American Railways,

Fifteen railway cars carrying TIH chemicals recently derailed in Baltimore, causing massive explosions and a deadly gaseous chemical air spill. The accident happened in a remote area, leaving none dead but rattled nearby homes and destroyed several large buildings. Toxins released into the air are not retractable and leave local residents within a wide radius subject to permanent organ damage.

The sodium chlorate spilled is so unstable that it would not even need a spark to ignite as one chemist clarifies, “If it’s not compatible, anything could set it off.” There are over 3,000 train accidents per year, and with 95 tons of TIH chemicals crossing three different nations on your railways each year, it is guaranteed tragedy will strike again. The only questions are where, when and how extreme? The potential for mass catastrophe is unfortunately very high and needs addressing before more are injured and killed at the whims of your policies. There are over four times as many TIH chemicals per railway car than a big rig, turning cars into virtual rolling time bombs. By minimizing the amount of chemicals allowed on board each car you are guaranteed to prevent future deaths and environmental degradation. The world and its people need less chemicals and more safety, both of which you have the power to provide and make every day better for all.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: dmytrock via Flickr

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  1. Instead of interfering with legitimate commerce in chemical shipping, I’d prefer to upgrade track maintenance and improve the ability of trains to avoid damage from railway idiots in cars who drive into grade crossings when a train approaches, either by upgrading locomotive construction or improving crossing signals.

  2. RudyCaparros says:

    TOXIC TRAIN WAR – THE CHLORINE INSTITUTE (a trade association of chlorine producers) claims that its “C” Kit, a repair kit for chlorine rail tank cars, is safe to use. Haz-mat experts say The Chlorine Institute “C”-Kit is extremely hazardous and its use must be discontinued. Learn the truth, See–PETITION C KIT for First Responders Comments.

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