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STARS HazMat Chronicle

September 1, 2021: Notice of Funding Opportunity

FRA issued a notice detailing the requirements and procedures necessary for anyone interested in applying for grant funding. The funding covers eligible programs under the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program and Trespass Prevention projects. Interested parties must submit applications by November 29, 2021.

Notice of Funding Opportunity for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvementshttps://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-08-31/pdf/2021-18737.pdf

September 1, 2021: STB Blocks CN’s Voting Trust Bid

The Surface Transportation Board is blocking Canadian National Railway’s current bid to purchase Kansas City Southern. STB feels the current deal, which includes a voting trust, would violate the regulations.
“The proposed use of a voting trust in the context of the impending control application does not meet the standards under the current merger regulations. [The agency] therefore denies the applicants’ motion for authorization to establish and use the proposed voting trust.” says STB.
Canadian National and Canadian Pacific have been trying to purchase Kansas City Southern for several months. Both railroads hope to build the first continental rail network between the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

U.S. rail regulator rejects CN’s voting trust bid to buy Kansas City Southern

Bill Stephens, a columnist with trains.com, used his latest article to break down the 33-page explanation from STB. His article, Analysis: With CN-KCS decision, regulators shut the door to future mergers, discusses why “the board explained why we’ll never see a transcontinental merger under the current review rules.”

August 30, 2021: Derailment Causes Anhydrous Ammonia Leak and Evacuation

A Canadian Pacific freight train derailed in New Hampton Iowa on Saturday. The derailment caused a leak of anhydrous ammonia and diesel fuel. Residents were evacuated for a little more than 24 hours while crews cleaned-up the hazardous materials. Anhydrous ammonia is a flammable material that is found in nitrogen fertilizer. In large enough quantities it can can cause lung damage and can be fatal.
The train’s engineer and conductor were taken to the hospital as a precaution. They were both treated and released without serious injury.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is monitoring the scene. Canadian Pacific stated the derailment was caused by floodwaters in the area.

Crews cleaning up hazardous materials, after train derailment near New Hampton

August 27, 2021: Petition for Extension on Waiver of Compliance

Norfolk Southern is seeking to extend an existing waiver of compliance. The current waiver for the pilot program allows the use of a simulation program for the electronic air brake test refresher training for conductors and supervisor.
The pilot program has concluded. Norfolk Southern would like to use the simulation program as an optional replacement for the hands-on refresher training. Interested parties may submit comments until October 12, 2021.

Docket Number FRA–2018–0100

August 26, 2021: Problems Plaguing EPA’s New Chemical Division

EPA’s New Chemical Division is continuing to face problems. Scientists working for the program claim managers are preventing adequate safety assessments of new chemicals.
The accusations claim managers are preventing assessors from communicating with other specialists in order to have the assessments completed within 90 days. The employees that did reach out to others for confirmation of their work or advice faced reprimands.
Specialists can most easily fill in knowledge gaps by consulting with other specialists who have the requisite expertise. This is particularly important for less experienced employees. Forbidding consultation is an abusive practice which compromises the scientific integrity of chemical assessments, [preventing] accurate hazard information from being completely reflected, to the ultimate detriment of worker and public safety.” – Tim Whitehouse, Executive Director of PEER

Lack of Collaboration Cripples EPA New Chemicals Program

August 24, 2021: Canada’s TSB Investigating Recent Derailment in Moncton

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is sending a team of investigators to the site of CN’s recent derailment. On Saturday, a freight train derailed in Moncton, New Brunswick. Around 30 cars left the track. Twenty of those ended up on their sides.
A spokesperson for CN said no hazardous materials were involved in the derailment but declined to say what materials were on board the train.
The cause of the derailment is unknown at this time.

Transportation Safety Board to investigate CN derailment in New Brunswick