California senator to introduce hazmat legislation

| 10/19/2001

State Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), says she plans to draft legislation to overhaul the way dangerous chemicals are transported within the state. The move comes after a small part of a hazmat shipment from China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station went unreported.

On Sept. 10, at a transfer location near Sacramento, the carrier found a 50-gallon drum of ammonium perchlorate, a highly flammable powder used to make explosives, missing from the trucker's load. Authorities later concluded the trucker had made two stops - one in Compton and one in Richmond - while leaving the trailer door unlocked.

Even though the missing barrel was noticed one day before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the trucking firm waited nine days to notify state authorities, a spokesman from Sen. Romero's office said.

To date, the alleged barrel is still missing. The California Highway Patrol attributes the loss to a counting error, but the Navy says the drum was lost in transit.

"This is a wake-up call to the threat to public safety posed by transporting hazardous material under existing law," said Romero. Under her proposal, videotapes of the loading, transferring and unloading of hazmat substances would have to be made, and trucks would also need to be locked during transit.

The legislation cannot be introduced until January when state lawmakers reconvene. But, Romero said if the governor should call a special session in the meantime, she will introduce the measure then.