A New York congressman for the greater Rochester area is asking the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to reverse a rule that allows the transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) unit trains.
Democrat Rep. Joseph D. Morelle said in a Nov. 13 letter addressed to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Ron Batory that the safety concerns of transporting LNG via rail outweigh the benefits of running LNG trains through his district.
In June, the DOT and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration authorized the bulk transportation of LNG by rail, and the rule became effective in August.
The rule, which was made in consultation with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), allows for the bulk transportation of LNG using DOT-113 tank cars with enhanced outer tank requirements and additional operational controls. Federal agencies reviewed and considered public comments, including objections and concerns, prior to making the proposed rule final in June.
An accident would put at risk the local environment and the people who would inhale LNG vapors, including local first responders, Morelle said. He cited the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Association of State Fire Marshals as others that also oppose the new rule.
“Despite the regulation around the rule requiring liquefied natural gas to be carried in specifically designed tankers, the severe threat posed by an accident remains too great,” Morelle said.
“Alongside the health risks that an increase in natural gas could cause, a possible accident would put our valuable first responders at risk,” Morelle said. “While the Rochester Fire Department attests that they can handle any disasters that come their way, they should not be subjected to dealing with these harmful gases when there can be more safety measures and more sustainable materials used. Our first responders are vital to our community, especially in these times, and a spill of natural gas will consume great sums of their physical and technical resources.”
A lawsuit against the federal agencies and spearheaded by 14 states, the District of Columbia and environmental groups against the rule is still ongoing. The suit alleges that the rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act, the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.