Rail safety regulators recommend penalties for BNSF - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Rail safety regulators recommend penalties for BNSF

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - State rail safety regulators say BNSF railway should be penalized for failing to report hazardous material spills within the required time limit.

The Utilities and Transportation Commission issued a formal complaint this week saying BNSF missed the reporting deadline for 14 spills since November.

State safety rules require railroads to report spills within 30 minutes to the Washington State Emergency Operations Center.  Officials say when a spill is not reported quickly, critical response resources may not be deployed in time and that could cause harm to the public and the environment.

The spills ranged from crude oil leaks to a dripping gas valve. Two cases involved 100 gallons of spilled lube oil. They occurred in Blaine, Pasco, Seattle, Everett and Seattle. The commission can impose penalties of up to $1,000 for each violation.

BNSF spokesman Gus Melanos says most of the releases were minor. He says railroad is committed to complying with state and federal safety regulations and is updating its reporting protocols.

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