Oil train shipment details not sensitive, federal transportation officials argue
BILLINGS, Mont. — Federal transportation officials said on Wednesday that details about volatile oil train shipments are not sensitive security information, as railroads sought to keep the material from the public after a string of fiery accidents.
The Department of Transportation has ordered railroads to give state officials specifics on oil train routes and volumes so emergency responders can better prepare for accidents.
Railroads have persuaded some states to sign agreements restricting the information's release for business and security reasons.
But the Federal Railroad Administration determined the information is not sensitive information that must be withheld from the public to protect security, said Kevin Thompson, the agency's associate administrator.
Thompson added that railroads could have appropriate claims that the information should be kept confidential for business reasons, but he said states and railroads would have to work that out.
Montana officials said they intend to publicly release the oil train information next week.
The move is mandated under the state's open records law and will help protect public safety by raising community awareness, said Andrew Huff, chief legal counsel for Gov. Steve Bullock.
“Part of the whole reason the federal government ordered that this information be given to states is to protect the communities through which these trains roll,” Huff said. “If there's not some federal pre-emption or specific regulation or statute that prevents release of this information, then under our records laws we have to release it.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ex-coal exec pleads not guilty in W.Va. mine blast
- Obama defers deportations for 4 million illegals
- Former Va. Sen. Webb launches presidential exploratory committee
- NSA: China thefts could lead to attack
- Finally, a man walks like a gecko in scientists’ lab
- E-cigarettes cut cravings, study finds
- ‘Sex purchasers’ publicly shamed
- Enrollment count in federal health care law padded, House panel says
- NYC show features Cezanne’s missus
- Obama orders review of hostage policy, but won’t reconsider U.S. refusal to pay ransoms
- House Republican floats plan to defund immigration order but avoid shutdown