Bloomberg News

TSA to Help Probe Burlington Northern Security-Lapse Report

November 15, 2011

(Updates with Pistole comment in fourth paragraph.)

Nov. 9 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will work with the Federal Railroad Administration to investigate a Seattle television station’s report of a security breach by Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the railroad owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The report, which aired earlier this week, said people were able to board a Burlington train carrying sulfuric acid when the railroad left a locomotive unlocked and unguarded for six hours one night. KOMO cited unidentified Burlington workers who said moving such a train would be easy and a Minnesota attorney for employees suing the company who said terrorists might take advantage of the circumstances.

“We will work with the FRA to make sure these issues do not repeat,” TSA Administrator John Pistole said at a Senate committee hearing in Washington today.

The TSA will focus on examining toxic-chemical inhalation hazards that could be used by terrorists, he said.

The FRA, which oversees railroads, opened the investigation “late last week” after KOMO 4 News alerted the agency to its upcoming report, Brie Sachse, an agency spokeswoman, said yesterday.

The KOMO story “failed to recognize that there are numerous ways to immobilize a parked train such as removing essential equipment, tying down hand brakes or isolating electrical fields on the locomotive,” Fort Worth, Texas-based Burlington said.

--Editors: Andrea Snyder, Bernard Kohn

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Bykowicz in Washington at jbykowicz@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrea Snyder at asnyder5@bloomberg.net


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