On June 14, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a safety bulletin warning that some chlorine railcar transfer systems lack effective detection and emergency shutdown devices, leaving the public vulnerable to potential large-scale toxic releases. The Board formally recommended that the U.S. Department of Transportation expand its regulatory coverage to require facilities that unload chlorine railcars to install remotely operated emergency isolation devices to quickly shut down the flow of chlorine in the event of a hose rupture or other failure in the unloading equipment.
Coincidentally, the bulletin raises, yet again, security concerns about transporting chlorine, concerns that are prompting chlorine-using agencies to consider installing on-site chlorinators to avoid spills, releases and becoming a terrrorist target . Mort Satin has reported twice recently on this ( 1 2 ). CSB offered two "incident" reports to underline the seriousness of their concerns:
- June 28, 2004 - The collision of two trains near Macdona, Texas caused a release of liquefied chlorine from one of the train's tank cars. The chlorine vaporized, engulfed the area and led to the deaths of the train conductor and two local residents.
- January 6, 2005 - In Graniteville, South Carolina, a Norfolk Southern train collided with a stationary train, leading to a derailment, and the release of an estimated 120,000 pounds of chlorine. The derailment and resulting chlorine release caused 9 deaths, led to over 500 persons seeking medical treatment for possible chlorine exposure and the mandatory evacuation of over 5,000 residents.
Current bulk chlorine customers receiving chlorine by railcars, barges or tank trucks are in the process of implementing safety guidelines developed by the Chlorine Institute with a deadline at the end of this year. Customers who take delivery in one-ton containers or cyllinders have an additional year to comply.