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BYLINE: John Gallagher
Unless they get some form of relief from Congress, the nation's largest railroads say they want out of the increasingly costly and dangerous hazardous materials shipping business.
But to win relief, they'll need help from an unlikely corner - hazmat shippers.
At an Oct. 16 forum in Washington, hazmat shippers said as common carriers railroads are obligated to haul their freight - whether they like it or not. If the rails could turn hazmats down, shippers would have to turn to more costly trucking services.
The railroads' common carrier obligation "forms the underpinning of everything we do in freight transportation," Tom Schick, senior director of the American Chemistry Council, said at the forum, sponsored by the Association of Transportation Law Professionals.
"Carriers exist to carry traffic tendered to them, and if (a certain commodity) doesn't fit into their business plan, is that a decision the carrier should be making or the shipper?"
The railroads, however, say they are …