Several leading chemical manufacturers have announced plans to replace their entire U.S. and Canadian chlorine tank car fleets by the end of 2017 with new rail tank cars that will feature significantly enhanced safety and security attributes. Occidental Chemical Corp. (OxyChem), the Dow Chemical Co., U.S. Magnesium LLC, and Bayer MaterialScience reaffirmed their drive for continuous improvement in the safe and secure rail transportation of chlorine through this aggressive rail tank car replacement commitment and announced the formation of a Chlorine Rail Tank Car Development Coordination Panel.

The primary goal of the panel is to accelerate the chlorine industry's development of enhanced tank car designs that can be leveraged across the chemical industry in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Transportation and Transport Canada. The panel welcomes the participation of other chlorine shippers willing to commit to the same rail tank car replacement plans.

Panel participants believe that enhancing chlorine transportation safety and security is a shared responsibility between shippers, railroads, and the government and must go beyond rail tank car design to include a comprehensive review of all the factors involved including train operations, human factors, routing, and track conditions.

"Of all the aspects involved in the safe rail transport of chemicals, shippers like OxyChem can have the greatest positive impact on rail tank car design," said Stephen Fitzgerald, OxyChem's senior vice president of manufacturing, engineering, and technology. "While we believe the current rail tank car fleet is dependable, our commitment to health, safety, environment, and security excellence and continuous improvement leads us to support development of a next-generation tank car design that incorporates significant safety and security enhancements."

Robert Blake, director of distribution safety at Bayer MaterialScience NAFTA, said: "Such active involvement in distribution safety improvement aligns with our commitment to the Responsible Care initiative. We believe that any decision on a new tank car design approach should be based on sound science and engineering and consider all factors of design, construction, and operation."

Dr. Howard Kaplan, vice president of chemicals and by-products at U.S. Magnesium LLC, added: "U.S. Magnesium is looking forward to working with the Chlorine Institute and the members of the industry to achieve significant improvements in transportation reliability and safety." The Chlorine Institute has agreed to facilitate the new panel, which will work in close coordination with the Next Generation Rail Tank Car project — a joint initiative of Dow, Union Pacific Railroad, and Union Tank Car Co. In addition, the Chlorine Institute will incorporate the efforts of its Tank Car of the Future Task Force into these efforts.

"We are pleased to work with these companies and the Chlorine Institute to continue to build upon our shared commitment to Responsible Care," said Henry Ward, the Next Generation Rail Tank Car project leader and global director of transportation safety and security for Dow. "Together our efforts will help enable the safe and secure production and distribution of essential products for decades to come."

Rail transport is considered the safest mode of transportation for chlorine and other hazardous materials that are critical to the U.S. economy.