Security is tested at some of the rail yards in your backyard - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Posted by: Alisa Nave, 11/15/04, 10:00pm

Security is tested at some of the rail yards in your backyard

By: Aaron Diamant

Inside the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe rail yard; our cameras had complete access to hundreds of unattended rail cars, a cargo crane, even locomotives. We had no trouble getting in from an unmarked, unguarded back road that lead into the yard. "We've been walking through this train yard now for about half an hour. We even had access to these tanker cars. The kind that sometimes hold hazardous chemicals." We showed our tape to Butch Pennington, chairman of the "Local Emergency Planning Committee." "Did anyone actually come up to you at any time? “No!” said Butch Pennington with Local Emergency Planning. A surprise to Pennington who's committee is made up of local companies required by the Federal Government to keep security plans. "If they have a safety plan to monitor that area I would believe that it would be a good idea to be challenging people that come into that area." No one challenged us at the Canadian National Rail Yard either. Again, we walked right in and up to dozens of rail cars, even those used to carry hazardous chemicals. "Obviously by looking at this tape there are no security arrangements at this particular rail yard." The same story was at the Norfolk and Southern yard. We had easy access to unattended railcars and locomotives. All three railroads turned down our requests for on camera interviews, but each sent written statements. Burlington Northern told us their officers, "capably patrol their respective territories," and "BNSF believes our ability to protect our employees remain solid." Canadian National told us it, "remains committed to providing a safe and secure link in the transportation chain." While Norfolk and Southern wrote, "Nothing is more important to freight railroads than the safety of our operations and the safety of the communities we serve." Communities also served by Randall Roby, who heads up the our area's Homeland Security Council. We showed him our tape, too. "Just because you were able to get up there does not necessarily me concern me because there are things going on that you don't see that do help protect those areas." Neither Roby nor the railroads would clue us in on what those "things" are. "I don't know what their security measures are. I don't know where their cameras are located, how many their out on their site. I don't know where all that stuff is. It's not up to me to know that." Apparently it's up to the railroads themselves, responsible for their own security, including access control! Controls we found fell short and allowed us to spend hours roaming around their properties. Once we left each rail yard; we continued to photograph them from public over-passes and sidewalks. Only then did railroad police from each company spot us and stop to question us. But never while we were on their property.

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