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amendments to legislate on water carriers, should be stricken out of this bill in its entirety,
For the rest of the bill I will let the people affected by it speak for themselves. I am solely concerned with the effect it might have on water carriers, of which my company is one of the exempt types of carriers.
I feel that this bill is so broad in its coverage and so far-reaching, and its industries and people that it will affect, that it is discriminatory, inconsistent, overlapping, and is grasping in its authority. Those are pretty broad statements to make. But I think by example I can show you
what I want to say. We water carriers, especially the small-vessel operators, feel that there is ample legislation and ample rules and regulations to cover the performance that this bill intends to cover. We feel that these regulations are in the hands of a competent Government agency, the United States Coast Guard, a part of the United States Treasury Department, and acting under United States authority.
As I previously stated the Marine Steamboat Inspection Service since 1871 has been charged with the duty of safety regulations aboard vessels. Under the definition "dangerous articles" contained in the bill here, it means “any substance having explosive, combustible, inflammable, oxidizing, corrosive, or poisonous characteristics." Take the two words "combustible" and "inflammable.” It could cover hay, straw, hemp, bagasse; it will affect rice farmers, ordinary farmers, cane planters. The farmer under this bill could not even take a load of hay and deliver it to town to a warehouse, under the heading of an inflammable article, without complying with the regulations that may be imposed by the Interstate Commerce Commission, and properly marking and identifying, or at least having an exempt certificate issued to him.
The truck line, whether he be an individual, private, common, or contract carrier, could not lift that load of hay without first seeing that the shipper had a proper permit, and he himself had one, and neither could the warehouseman receive it,
The cane planter from the sugar mill could not transport the bagasse that he has taken from the sugar grinder and ship it to the Celotex people for the manufacture of wallboard. That is how broad this thing is.
It has been stated by the gentleman representing the Interstate Commerce Commission here that the Interstate Commerce Commission probably would not invoke such regulations. I say if they do not intend to invoke them they should delete it out of the bill. It is broad enough that they could invoke it if they wanted to, if the bill is accepted as it is.
I also note that under the heading of "dangerous articles" that nothing has been said about hazardous articles which are controlled in part by the Coast Guard regulation that comes under that same category. And certainly if there is a need for the regulation of one there should be a need for the regulations of the other.
I have said that this bill was rather inconsistent, and I pointed out one of the inconsistencies that I see in this bill. The definition of “vessel” meansany watercraft used or usable for the transportation of property or passengers by water, exclusive of (1), any public vessel which is not engaged in commercial service
A Government vessel engaged in commercial service, such as the vessels now owned by the United States Maritime Commission operated by them under either bare-boat time charter or Government agency agreement, in carrying these articles would come under the provisions of this bill. However, that same vessel, doing identically the same service for the Government, would be exempt. I think that that is rather inconsistent with the statement made by Mr. Perrin a few moments ago, where he said that transportation of dangerous articles by a private carrier is no less dangerous and detrimental to the public interest and safety than if it is carried by a common carrier.
By that same statement I say that if a Government-owned vessel engaged in the transportation of these same dangerous articles it is no less dangerous for a Government vessel to handle them than it is a private, a contract, or a common carrier. I think there is an inconsistency in the position taken here in the statement, and the way this bill is written.
The second exemption under vessels says "Any vessel constructed or converted for the principal purposes of carrying inflammable or combustible liquid cargo in bulk in its own tanks which vessel is subject to the provisions of section 4417–a of the revised statutes, United States Code, 1940 edition, title 46, section 391-a.
That is the act under which the tanker movement regulations became law. That was in 1938.
If you will go back to that act you will find under tank vessels the same reference, it says:
All vessels regardless of tonnage, size or manner of propulsion, whether self-propelled or not, whether carrying freight or passengers for hire or not, that shall have on board any inflammable or combustible liquid cargo in bulk, except public vessels owned by the United States, other than those engaged in commercial service, shall be considered steam vessels for the purpose of this title and shall be subject to the provisions thereof: Provided, That this section shall not apply to vessels having on board only inflammable or combustible liquids for use as fuel or stores, or to vessels carrying liquid cargo only in drums, barrels, or other packages.
Under the tanker rules and regulations it does not provide, by law, that the carrying of drums and drum barrels or other packages of Jiquid petroleum would come under the tanker rules and regulations.
What S. 1141 appears to me to be doing is that they are asking, by legislation, to have control over those articles on tank vessels which, by regulation, is now being handled by the Coast Guard. And it would take away from the provisions of that particular act that one small feature out of it and throw it under these regulations, whereas the remaining portion of 4417-a would come clearly under the hands of the Coast Guard.
There we have a situation of two governmental agencies invoking certain rules and regulations aboard the same vessel. And it could well be, as Commodore Shepheard has pointed out, that the requirements of the Interstate Commerce Commission in the carriage of this type of package freight, combustible and inflammable liquid in drums or barrels, might be that they will say: "We will tell you how that portion of the vessel will be constructed.
From the beginning of the construction of the vessel you would have two agencies that would tell you how to build your ship. It could well be under this act. It is broad enough.
Also, next comes the question of manning of the vessel and the licenses of the crew of the vessel, all of which comes under the handling of these commodities on board the vessel. You would have a most confusing situation.
As far as the small vessel operator would be concerned it would not only be confusing, but it would be very expensive because the more agencies on a vessel that you have under the rules and regulations, there is bound to be more conflict.
And that has been brought very sharply to our attention lately where the United States Public Health Service is now taking over the duties of what formerly the Coast Guard was doing, and what suits the Coast Guard does not suit the Public Health Service. As a result you tear out one thing to put something in to suit somebody else.
As I told you, there are many agencies of Government that now affect the ship owner and ship operator.
I say that is inconsistent, also, because they tell you in this paragraph the definition of a vessel, that these types of vessels are exempt and not included and that you should be entitled by that one statement to all the provisions of 4417–a. But turn right back over here, on page 9, section 3, it says:
The second proviso in paragraph (4) of section 4417-a of the revised statutes, as amended, is amended to read as follows: “And provided further, That no permit shall be issued under the provisions of this section authorizing the presence on board any vessel of any fulminates or other detonating compounds in bulk, in dry condition, or explosive compositions that ignite spontaneously.”
That amendment is striking directly at that part of the Coast Guard regulation that pertains to safety of life at sea, wherein they prescribe certain rules and regulations as to the equipment you must keep in a lifeboat, such as flares, cargo vessels, water lights attached to ring buoys. Who knows whether the Interstate Commerce Commission is going to provide anything to replace that? And if they do not, at least they dictate to the Coast Guard the type of equipment to put on the boat.
No later than now, October 31, there is a complete new set of regulations composed of 24 pages. The principal objectives in this have to do with tank, ship, lifeboat equipment, distress equipment, on all waters, lakes, bases, oceans, and the Great Lakes.
Mr. FORISTEL. Whose regulations are they?
Mr. BALL. Those promulgated by the United States Coast Guard. It clearly comes under their prerogative to promulgate those regulations.
Now we will put in a complete set of regulations, or at least revamp the ones we now have to come up to date on, to provide how this equipment shall be manufactured, how it shall be improved. And somebody is going to a lot of expense to comply with it. But if S. 1141 becomes a law, that goes out the window. It is someone's expense. It is a duplication of effort, it appears to me.
The International Convention of Safety of Life at Sea, provided that carriage of cargoes, dangerous to life and safety is forbidden. "The government of each nation determines for itself what is considered a dangerous cargo.
If the Interstate Commerce Commission is made the agency of this Government for performing the regulation of that type, it will in
troduce another agency into the membership of the International Convention of Safety of Life at Sea. It is clearly without their province, but it is being brought into it by specific provisions of amendments which they have put into this bill, s. 1141.
I think I pointed out a few minutes ago what I thought was an inconsistency in reference to the carriage of dangerous cargo on private vessels. It is just as dangerous on a private vessel as it would be on a common carrier or contract carrier. That is exactly the position that the Interstate Commerce Commission took in the emergency during the war, in which they transferred their regulatory powers as to the regulation of carriage of dangerous articles on private carriers on land; with the statement that it is no less dangerous merely because the explosion of a dangerous article comes when it is transported in a private vehicle interstate other than in a common carrier.
Again, I point back to the definition of “vessels.” But the same thing would hold true on vessels.
To me it is quite clear that S. 1141 in substance is a blank check, and the Commission may require from carriers what it pleases to demand; and the only restraint upon the Commission would be its own judgment or discretion.
There is nothing in there that says that there are certain things which they will not do, but everywhere it says that these are things that they can or will do, or which would come under the provisions of this bill.
The bill contains no provisions to the effect that the report of the Commission after its investigation of an accident cannot be used by the injured party in a suit for damages against a carrier. Clearly, there would be that right to hold investigations where there were damages or where there was loss of property resulting from the carriage of explosives or dangerous cargo.
There is no protection, as far as the carrier is concerned, that evidence obtained at such a hearing could not be available to be used by the injured party in case of a suit.
Again, the authority contained in the amended section, 236 (a), would result in the injection of local police powers into the merchant marine affairs, a field that is now occupied exclusively by the Government.
The bill states that it would have the right to call them in on such matters.
In summing this whole bill up, as I have attempted to analyze it, by reference and by reading the bill itself, I have come to a few conclusions:
That the inclusion of water carriers in the bill is wholly without justification or need; that there is ample regulation and legislation now enacted to accomplish all that is set forth in S. 1141 so far as water carriers are concerned; that the enactment of S. 1141 would give another Government agency regulatory powers over the affairs of the merchant marine on merchant vessels and small water carriers, without any new advantages to the industry; that the bill does not appear to offer any benefits not provided by the present stautes, which would recommend enactment, but on the contrary only confusion and overlapping of authority would result, at the expense and inconvenience of the water carriers.
The foregoing, and many other objections to the bill, should be pointed out. However, I believe that I have pointed out and enumerated enough of the disadvantages in the bill to small business and to water carriers in particular that this committee could consistently and should report the bill unfavorably to the committee at such time as you are called upon to report.
The CHAIRMAN. You understand this committee merely has the complaint from you folks at this time. It is before a Senate committee now. Whatever opinion we express on the bill will be the result of its effect on the small water carriers, you understand.
Mr. BALL. Mr. Chairman, that, I think, completes my remarks.
The CHAIRMAN. I just wanted to make it clear that we are an economic-study committee, and not a legislative committee, sir.
Mr. BALL. I am not familiar with the functions or the latitude of this committee, but it was my view that it might be called upon for an opinion, and that was the reason I addressed my remarks
as I did. The CHAIRMAN. We certainly appreciate your testimony.
Mr. FORISTEL. Have you heard any complaints regarding the insufficiency of the present regulations by the Coast Guard ?
Mr. BÅLL. I can't say that I have; no, sir.
Mr. FORISTEL. You do believe that there should be some regulation over the handling of dangerous cargo; do you not?
Mr. BALL. I will qualify my statement by saying that so far as water carriers are concerned, there are ample regulations.
Mr. FORISTEL. At the present time?
Mr. BALL. As administered by the competent agency of the Government—the agency that is competent to enforce the regulations.
Mr. FORISTEL. Those are all the questions I have, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. How many more witnesses do you have, Mr. Foristel?
Mr. FORISTEL. There are two more with whom I have talked, and there are quite a number of others.
At this time I would like to call Mr. Rene A. Stiegler.
Do you swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. STIGLER. I do.
Mr. FORISTEL. Will you proceed, sir? TESTIMONY OF RENE A. STIEGLER, REPRESENTING GEORGE BURAS
AND THE AYERS MARINE SERVICE, NEW ORLEANS, LA., AND W. T. BURTON CO., SULPHUR, LA. Mr. STIEGLER. I represent three small water carriers: George Buras of New Orleans, the Ayers Marine Service of New Orleans, and the W. T. Burton Co. of Sulphur, La.
I have also been asked to speak in a general way by a number of the people who are here present.
I have no prepared statement, but I have made a few notes based upon what I have heard here today, particularly the presentation by the representative of the Interstate Commerce Commission.