FBI alert shines light on Olympic security gap

| 2/15/2002

The FBI issued an urgent alert Tuesday morning asking the nation to be on high alert for a possible terrorist attack. Meanwhile, Union Pacific Railroad continues to haul toxic and explosive chemicals through Salt Lake City during the Olympics despite an order by the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command to reroute its trains carrying hazardous materials.

Union Pacific said last week prior to the opening ceremonies, that it would not alter any hazardous shipments around Salt Lake City or nearby Ogden, despite the possibility of an explosion or toxic spill either by accident or terrorist intent.

"Everyone is doing their part to make Salt Lake City safe for the Olympics except Union Pacific, which has snubbed its nose at the real threat posed by transporting toxic and explosive materials through Salt Lake City during the games," said Ralph Taurone, Vice President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 222 in Salt Lake City.

Union Pacific trains carrying hazmat run frequently through Salt Lake City. Union Pacific also operates a rail yard bordering the Olympic Plaza and near the medals plaza, where tens of thousands of Olympic spectators are expected to gather each day.

"If the Olympic Public Safety Command has the power to shut down the airport, they certainly have the power to shut down Union Pacific," said Utah Sen. Ed Mayne. "During this time of heightened national security, Union Pacific should comply with these necessary safety measures."

The Utah Olympic Public Safety Command, comprised of federal and local agencies including the FBI, is responsible for the coordination and implementation of all safety measures at the Olympics.