Facebook Twitter

Hazardous loads won’t be rerouted

SHARE Hazardous loads won’t be rerouted

Olympic security officials say there's no reason to restrict hazardous materials shipments into Salt Lake City during the Games, despite heated objections from the local Teamsters Union and politicians.

A group calling itself Coalition for a Safe Olympics boldly announced their wishes for the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command to restrict Olympic hazmat shipments with a full-page newspaper advertisement Thursday.

"This is old news to us," UOPSC Commander Robert Flowers said Friday. "I put our traffic people and our department of transportation people together and they're going to go back and talk with the railroad one more time. Preliminarily it looks like we're OK. We don't anticipate any changes or making any more demands of the railroad."

Flowers said UOPSC is comfortable with the security measures already in place along the rail lines, which run between the Delta Center, home to Olympic ice events, and The Gateway, where visitors are expected to linger during the Games.

"There's security there," Flowers said. "They have railroad security, we have our security, we have surveillance. We're paying attention to that ? we're not ignoring it."

UOPSC, however, has not required Union Pacific to alter its hazmat shipment schedule for the Olympics, a point that coalition members have taken issue with, especially since federal officials will be restricting all flights at Salt Lake City International Airport during opening and closing ceremonies.

"Union Pacific's arrogant refusal to reroute its trains during the Olympics is a slap in the face to the people of Salt Lake at a time when the eyes of the world are on our city," said Ralph Taurone, vice president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 222.

Thursday's full-page newspaper ad included the names of eight state legislators.

The coalition is requesting Union Pacific place armed guards on all trains carrying hazardous materials and that all trains be inspected within 100 miles of Salt Lake City during the Games.

Their concerns are based on statistics they say shows a train accident happens every 90 minutes and every two weeks a train accident involving the release of hazardous materials results in the evacuation of the surrounding area.

Union Pacific officials say they won't be changing their shipments for the Games.

"We're going to continue to haul various hazardous materials during the Olympics," Union Pacific spokesman John Bromley said. "The Teamsters have been attempting to unionize our trucking subsidiary, and it's typical of them to harass us. I don't think they're interested in safety."

In a news release distributed to the media, the coalition outlined six requests to make rail lines safer during the Games, including rerouting hazmat train shipments, only allowing hazmat shipments in during the late night or early morning, requiring all trains to submit detailed inventories of their shipments and submitting those reports to UOPSC before entering Salt Lake City.

Flowers said security planners will know what's being shipped and when.

"They will tell us what it is. When they get ready to ship something we'll know what it is and we'll know how to respond with it," Flowers said.

E-mail: djensen@desnews.com Contributing: Associated Press