Safety is CSX's highest priority – the safety of communities, employees and customers' freight. CSX carries a variety of commodities important to our economy and way of life, including consumer products, automobiles, food and agriculture products, coal and chemicals. Major commodities produced or consumed within South Carolina include containerized consumer goods, coal, iron and steel scrap, textile chemicals and plastics. Crude oil is not currently transported on CSX's network through South Carolina.
Rail shipments of products considered to be hazardous materials are regulated by federal law under the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It is important to note that under federal interstate commerce laws, all common carriers including CSX are required to transport any commodity tendered to them in a safe container. That includes tank cars and other railroad cars that are approved by the federal government for use with the commodities they carry. CSX is consistently a safety leader in one of the nation's safest industries; our goal is to move every car to its destination safely.
Routing and Infrastructure Protection
Across the industry, movements of hazardous materials are routed in accordance with the Rail Corridor Risk Management System, an analytical tool developed in coordination with the federal government, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), PHMSA and FRA that takes into account 27 factors about potential routes. The tool focuses on the safety and security of employees, freight and communities through which the trains travel, looking at specifics including volume of commodity, trip length, population density along the route, local emergency response capability, track quality and signal systems – to assess the safety and security of rail routes.
CSX spends more than $1 billion annually to maintain critical infrastructure, including tracks and bridges, to provide safe, reliable and efficient service. CSX implements an inspection program that is more rigorous than Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) mandates. For example, trained track inspectors conduct regular visual inspections several times per week using hi-rail vehicles. Additionally, CSX conducts sophisticated ultrasound inspections at least once or twice per year to confirm the integrity of the steel rails. Bridges are inspected at least annually by trained CSX bridge inspectors. Maintenance is critical to remain consistent with FRA and CSX safety standards. In fact, approximately 25 percent of the CSX workforce is dedicated to maintaining and improving the company's track, signals and grade crossings, to support safe conditions throughout the network.
For many years, CSX has been a leader in assembling an expert team to respond to hazardous materials incidents; in fact, CSX was one of the first railroads to put together a dedicated hazmat response team. Today, the hazmat team includes a director and ten regional managers who, as part of CSX's more than 300-person Public Safety, Health and Environment team, work closely with CSX's environmental, industrial hygiene, chemical safety and medical teams to effectively train for and manage any potential incidents. CSX's hazmat managers are deployed across the company's network to reduce response time in the event of an incident, and to facilitate strong relationships with local first responders and emergency management agencies. In addition, CSX maintains a network of hazmat response contractors and environmental consultants who are strategically located throughout its 23-state network and on-call around-the-clock. Finally, CSX has a unique, dedicated "standard of care" protocol that prioritizes the safety and welfare of any community affected by a CSX rail-related incident.
Coordination and Training
CSX shares information about our operations, including the routes we use and the cargo we carry, in a way that is sensitive to the security environment that exists in the world today. Federal regulations consider information about the shipment of hazardous materials to be security sensitive, and CSX shares information about the routes we use and the cargo we carry in a way that is consistent with those guidelines. CSX routinely provides detailed information about the cargo we carry and the routes we use to the state and local first-responder organizations that are responsible for protecting the public's safety in the event of a railroad incident. We have done this voluntary and in compliance with all federal regulations governing the transport of hazardous materials, and we will continue to do as part of our commitment to the safety of our employees and the community where we operate.
We share information through:
- Density studies that identify an annual rank listing by volume of the hazardous materials that we carry through a given community and the quantities we move, so first responders have an understanding of the likelihood of encountering any given type of material in an incident.
- We share it in near-real-time through a system called SecureNOW, which lets authorized agencies look at the contents of any car traveling through their jurisdiction at any time, so that information can be provided to responders in the event of an incident.
- We provide access to the same type of information directly to first responders through a free mobile app, that lets firefighters look up individual cars and their contents at the scene of an incident. (See more information on Operation Respond below.)
In addition, our Community Emergency Response Guide, which we periodically send out to fire departments and other first responders over our entire system, includes planning tips for responding organizations and has long listed the top hazardous materials commodities transported by U.S. railroads and those transported by CSX.
CSX also invests each year in training for first responders to prepare them to handle any rail-related incident. CSX's training reaches more than 7,000 first responders each year through hands-on sessions, classroom training at local fire stations, exercises and table-top drills, web-based and self-study training courses. The hands-on and classroom safety training helps strengthen CSX's partnership with first responders and provide a higher level of emergency readiness. For example, since mid-May of 2014, CSX has trained more than 2,000 first responders from more than 350 organizations in 18 cities through our Safety Train: Energy Preparedness Program, which covers hazardous materials response and information about the transport of crude oil.
In addition, CSX recently announced the availability of the rail industry's first mobile app that first responders can use to securely access information about hazardous materials being transported by any individual CSX train. First responders' ability to quickly understand the contents of rail cars supports an effective response that protects both the local communities and first responders themselves. CSX recognized the need for responders to more easily access this critical information and worked with the non-profit Operation Respond Institute to develop a mobile application that would share that critical information in a user-friendly, easily-accessible format. This gives them access to critical information while they are en route or on the scene of an incident involving a CSX train. In the event of an incident, first responders who arrive on scene can use the alpha numeric code displayed on the side of any rail car to look up the information about that car – what's in it, how the product behaves, any exposure considerations, and contact information for all of the Class I railroads to immediately reach the right person on the phone. The system also includes schematics for tank cars and Amtrak coach cars, a virtual damage assessment tool and a list of the top 25 hazardous materials shipped by CSX. In addition, advanced users, typically on-scene incident commanders, will also be able to request the entire CSX train consist on demand, without having to contact the railroad. More information about the app is here: http://tinyurl.com/ovvunfx