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Publication date: Feb. 21, 2007


The Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) has expressed concern over new secrecy rules related to rail transport of hazardous materials being proposed by the Departments of Homeland Security and Transportation. SEJ echoed more detailed concerns expressed by the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government (CJOG letter).

SEJ submitted brief comments on a proposed rule titled "Rail Transportation Security," published by DHS' Transportation Security Administration in the Federal Register of Dec. 21, 2006.

"SEJ is concerned about the excessive and largely unchecked secrecy this proposed rule would impose through those provisions relating to 'Sensitive Security Information,'" the comments stated. Sensitive Security Information (SSI) is a pseudo-classified category of information set up under a vague, decades-old legal authority originally meant only to hide the weak spots in airport luggage-screening and passenger-screening.

Congress and the Homeland Security Department have expanded the authority in recent years - to the point where it may soon be construed to apply secrecy to reports of bad track maintenance along rail hazmat shipping routes, noncompliance by companies with federal rail hazmat security requirements, or non-enforcement by TSA or the Federal Railroad Administration of those same requirements.

Last revised January 22, 2013

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