According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), rail is by far the safest way to move hazardous materials (hazmat). Today, more than 99.99% of rail hazmat shipments arrived at their destination without incident. In fact, railroads have reduced overall hazmat accident rates by 64% since 2000. Overall, the safety record for hazmat shipments on rail is far better than the comparable record for trucks.
In 2020, BNSF handled over 1.4 million hazmat shipments and, on average per year, only 0.0005 percent of these shipments are involved in an accident that results in a release of hazmat to the environment. Because any amount of material that leaks from any container is counted as a release, a single train accident can result in a report of multiple releases.
Training local emergency responders
Our environmental team has a strong commitment to training local responders on hazmat awareness and emergency response. We want to ensure that we can work with communities and respond quickly in the unlikely event that a hazmat emergency occurs.
BNSF provides free railroad hazmat response training to an average of 8,000 local emergency responders per year in communities across our network. BNSF has provided training to more than 125,000 emergency responders since 1996. In 2020, BNSF provided hazmat response training to more than 9,000 first responders across its network.
As a result of BNSF’s efforts, the TRANSCAER® (Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response) awarded BNSF with the National Achievement Award 20 times since 1998. The award committee, which includes members of the American Chemistry Council, AAR, National Tank Truck Carriers and the Chlorine Institute, presents the award to the TRANSCAER® partner or company that does the most to help communities prepare for hazmat transportation emergencies.
BNSF has also received transportation achievement awards from several shippers, recognizing BNSF as a leading transportation carrier.