Mayor Announces Report Supports Move to Ban Hazardous Material Transport Through Boston
Report cites an unacceptable level of risk when hazmat trucks use city as a shortcut
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For Immediate Release
May 13, 2011
Released By:
Mayor's Office
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office
Press.Office@cityofboston.gov

Today, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Boston Transportation Department released the results of a Hazardous Materials Transport Study conducted by the Battelle Memorial Institute over the last several months. The results of the study support Mayor Menino's previous move to prohibit hazmat trucks from traveling through the city during the day as a matter of public safety, and actually goes much further. Commissioned by an independent contractor, the report determined that the number of hazmat trucks traveling through Boston at any time presents an unacceptable level of risk in accordance with federal government standards. The report strongly recommends that only hazmat vehicles with drop-off or pickup locations within Boston should be allowed to travel within city limits, all others must use alternative routes outside of the city.

"I am very pleased with the outcome of this study as it validates the position that the City of Boston has taken all along," Mayor Menino said. "This report shows that without a doubt, there is an unacceptable level of risk associated with hazmat trucks using our city as a short cut and I will not allow it. I have said from the very beginning that this is just plain common sense and now we have an official report to prove it. I look forward to working with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and other agencies to implement these recommendations immediately."

During construction of the Central Artery, the Hazardous Cargo Transport Route through downtown Boston and the North End was moved from Cross Street to the longer and more densely populated Commercial Street with the understanding on the City's part that it would be moved back at the completion of construction. In 2006, the City converted the route back and added restriction to the hours that trucks carrying hazardous cargo could travel on this route.  These decisions were made after 9/11, at the same time that cities throughout the country were taking a careful look at their hazmat procedures.

Upon concerns expressed by representatives of the trucking industry, the Federal Motor Carriers Administration requested that the City of Boston perform an extensive review of hazardous cargo transport in accordance with a process laid out by the federal government.

The Battelle Memorial Institute, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, was contracted by the City of Boston to conduct the study. Their analysis evaluated a number of variables, with the dominating differentiating variable being the risk related to the potential exposure of populations along a route as a consequence of a hazmat spill.

The level of risk regarding hazmat transport on any particular route deemed safe by the federal government is 1.5 or lower. According to the report, the level of risk in the City of Boston during the day is 4.0 and the level of risk at night is 2.2.

The City of Boston will be hosting a public meeting at the Nazzarro Center in the North End on Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 7 PM to discuss the results and recommendations contained in Battelle's report.  Boston Transportation Commissioner Thomas J. Tinlin and members of his staff will outline the results and discuss the next steps.

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