Union Pacific: Water-treatment company's claims are all wet

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WASHINGTON — Union Pacific has vigorously defended its plan to reduce switching to a California water-treatment chemical company that has asked federal regulators to force the railroad to maintain five-day per week service.

Hasa, which makes and distributes water sanitation chemicals, claimed in August that reduced service would lead to product shortages and ultimately threaten supplies of safe water to nearly 24 million people in Southern California

“Ultimately, there is no support for Hasa’s apocalyptic claims that the entire population of the Los Angeles Basin will be without clean drinking water if Union Pacific provides three-day-a-week service,” UP said in a Sept. 3 filing with the Surface Transportation Board that was posted to the agency’s website today.

Most of the chemicals Hasa ships to municipalities are for maintaining swimming pools, not public drinking water systems, the railroad notes.

The STB last month ordered UP to maintain five-day-per week service to the Hasa plant in Saugus, Calif., while it considers Hasa’s request for an emergency service order and a temporary injunction.

But UP argues that the STB does not have jurisdiction over the matter because the shipments to Hasa move under contract.

“This fact categorically removes all the traffic at issue from the Board’s jurisdiction and precludes the Board from considering any of the relief Hasa seeks — whether an emergency service order, an injunction, or an order to mediate,” UP says.

UP says three-day per week service is sufficient for Hasa’s needs given the low volumes of chlorine and caustic soda received at its plant. In fact, UP has delivered cars to the plant three times per week on average for the year-to-date.

“In the past three years, Hasa has never received more than 16 cars in a single week,” UP said in its filing. “The idea that it needs to receive those cars in five weekly switches rather than three weekly switches defies logic.”

UP said the proposed reduction in service, which has been discussed with Hasa for more than two months, has nothing to do with its shift to an operating plan based on the principles of Precision Scheduled Railroading.

“There is no operating plan under which it would make sense to continue providing five weekly switches to a facility with Hasa’s volume, despite flagging local demand and limited crew and locomotive resources,” UP says. “Hasa’s attempt to frame its claims as a Unified Plan 2020 dispute is yet another red herring.”

The railroad also dismissed Hasa’s claims that UP’s service has been erratic and unreliable since it launched Unified Plan 2020. Deliveries to the plant have on time or early 94% of the time this year, according to UP’s filing.

Providing service on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays allows UP to meet requirements that shipments of hazardous materials be delivered within 48 hours.

UP’s filing is available online.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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