The American Chemistry Council and two other shippers' groups have called for an injunction to stop Canadian Pacific Railway’s “arbitrary, unilateral and illegal” rule that nearly bans the shipment of chlorine and other toxic chemicals on CP starting Monday.
Shippers can only send goods classified as toxic inhalation hazards (TIH) in tank cars made of normalized steel; regular cars approved by the Department of Transportation won’t cut it. According to a hazardous commodities document issued April 4 by CP, chemicals requiring normalized steel tank cars include ammonia, liquefied and compressed gas, nitric oxide and compressed oil.
The Chlorine Institute and the Fertilizer Institute joined the ACC in its complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. The parties have requested expedited judgment on the complaint.
Frank Reiner, president of the Chlorine Institute, said DOT is the body that imposes tank car rules, and the railroads do not have jurisdiction over these regulations.
“Over the years, railroad executives have publicly stated they do not wish to carry TIH shipments and only do so because they are required to by law. However, the nation needs these materials,” Reiner said in a statement.
Tom Schick, ACC’s Senior Director of Regulatory and Technical Affairs, said the railroad’s stance has impacts that will reverberate throughout the economy.
“CP’s decision blindsides the chemical industry and has ramifications for America’s public health, agriculture, pharmaceutical, construction, defense, and manufacturing sectors, all of which depend on TIH shipments,” he said in a statement.
A spokesman for Canadian Pacific said the railroad has no formal comments about the case because it is currently before the court.
"CP opposes the motion by the American Chemistry Council based on our railroad's continual concern over safety in our communities," the spokesman said. "CP believes there is a shared responsibility to haul these commodities throughout North America in the safest possible manner, and our railroad is asking shippers of these toxic chemicals to take steps to further protect our employees and the public."