Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Threat of Trains being Used for Terrorism

Trains carry goods and materials to various locations around the world and it is considered to a very safe mode of transportation. Yet there is the possibility that trains could be used for terrorism. This is because they often engage in transporting thousands of tons of chemicals, explosives, and nuclear waste as well as items that consumers want to be able to purchase from retailers.

In the wrong hands these types of items being transported by train could be disastrous. Experts in the field of terrorism and chemicals have been able to estimate that the access of certain ones from train cars could kill millions of people in the area within minutes. You can be that terrorists may well be aware of this information as well.

There is also the risk of terrorists bombing various train locations carrying these types of materials or people. In the past there have been some types of these incidents involving trains that are credited to acts of terrorism. You may not realize it depending on where you live, but that are more than 300,000 miles of train tracks in the United States alone where materials travel along on a regular basis.

The biggest concern in the amount of chlorine gas that is routinely moved by train because it is toxic. Trucks carrying this particular type of gas have been targeted in Iraq and that has alerted the government and railroad companies to the heightened risk of it in the United States. This particular gas could result in the death of thousands of people within a ten mile radius of any such spills or leaks so it needs to be closely protected.

This type of chlorine gas is commonly used at water treatment plants to make water safer to drink. To help reduce the amount of it on the trains, the government has been implementing safer alternatives. Many water treatment plans have switched from using chlorine gas to either liquid bleach or ultraviolet light. Both of them seem to offer a very effective way to treat water without the risk of traveling hundreds of miles with chlorine gas on the train cars.

The Transportation Security Administration has taken significant measures to reduce the risk of trains being accessed by terrorists since the attacks on 09/11/01. Yet the cost of placing security on trains with hazardous materials is very expensive. The cost of re-routing the materials so that they aren’t in the vicinity of residential and business locations is also expensive. That particular idea doesn’t necessarily mean that terrorists can’t get to the chemicals and then use them where they please though.

The Department of Homeland Security has implemented changes though that require further investigation of those who work on the trains as well as maintain the tracks. Background checks are to be conducted before a person is allowed to work in such areas. They have also implemented saver containers to help protect the materials from being easily accessed.

The major railways including Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific work closely with the Federal government to ensure various safety requirements are in place at all times. The goal of both agencies is to effectively transport materials via train without leaving any opportunities for terrorists to take over control of them. This is an ongoing line of defense that continues to be closely monitored and updated.

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