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Reference has been made to the handling of dangerous cargo. That involves a shore operation. Certainly the Coast Guard has done an excellent job in avoiding accidents in the handling of dangerous cargo at loading and unloading docks and ports and other stations. The Coast Guard, I want to point out, has not been easy with these operators. Many times they have been what some operators thought were too strict. But in the long run that strictness on the part of the Coast Guard has been fully justified by the avoidance of dangerous accidents.
The operators see no need whatever for the enactment of legislation of this kind, transferring to another agency of Government control over a very important aspect of the domestic water carrier and operator business.
It would mean dual control in many instances. As has been pointed out in previous testimony here the Coast Guard would retain many of the functions relating to the building of ships, and would retain control of the handling of dangerous cargo in ports, and other unloading points, and at the same time, in the event these amendments are made to the Transportation of Explosives Act the operators would be obliged to subject themselves to regulation by the Interstate Commerce Commission. For that reason the operators are deeply appreciative of the hearing, Mr. Chairman, you have afforded them here today, in order to voice their opposition to the general intent of this bill, providing as it does a dual control over an important element of transportation needed in these United States.
Mr. FORISTEL. Mr. Thompson, what percentage of the total transportation in this country is carried by these people who are represented here today?
Mr. THOMPSON. The domestic water carrier and operator industry handles approximately 15 percent of the tonnage of the country, a substantial portion of which are bulk commodities.
Mr. FORISTEL. Did I state correctly before that 80 percent of their cargo is petroleum bulk, carriage of petroleum?
Mr. THOMPSON. That is substantially correct.
Mr. Crost. You expressed a fear of overlapping and confusion if the Interstate Commerce Commission were to have jurisdiction. Can you give us a specific example of the kind of situation that you fear?
Mr. THOMPSIN. Yes; let us take the transportation of bulk sulfur. Sulfur is regarded as inflammable, and it is classed as dangerous cargo. At the present time the Coast Guard supervises the loading, the handling, the mooring of that commodity when it moves by water. If that jurisdiction were transfered to the Interstate Commerce Commission the carrier of that sulfur, the owner and operator of that equipment would have to abide, under the penal clauses in this bill, to any regulations that might be prescribed by another agency. Yet there would be no method by which that operator could escape the responsibility under Coast Guard regulation.
He would find himself in the middle, between two different agencies, if those regulations were not uniform, and there is no indication that they would be.
Mr. Crost. And that would apply to petroleum and other commodities, would it?
Mr. THOMPSON. In this bill, there purports to be an exemption of bulk petroleum products that are transported by water transportation in the tanks of vessels. That is, vessels that are subject to section 4417-a of the revised statute. That is the place where the authority of the Coast Guard originates to inspect and certificate tank vessels.
The operators do not think that that exemption is adequate. We think that through the bill there are other references made that might offset the purported exemption of that type of vessel. However, that is a matter that would have to be determined later as to adequacy of that particular regulation.
Mr. Crost. Are you afraid that only some petroleum products are exempt? Is that your point!
Mr. THOMPSON. There is no question about the nonexemption of packaged petroleum products in this bill. There is some question as to the adequacy of the purported exemption of bulk petroleum products, under the definition of “vessels” contained in the beginning of line 16, on page 2 of the bill.
Mr. Crost. Incidentally, I notice the gentlemen from the ICC shaking their heads when sulfur was mentioned. Perhaps we ought to ask Mr. Perrin what he had in mind there.
Mr. PERRIN. As I understand it, sulfur is not classed as a dangerous article.
Mr. FORISTEL. May I ask one question of you and Mr. Perrin together!
All of these articles that we have mentioned as being exempted, I mean petroleum and sulfur, if they are carried in mixed cargos, could all be considered inflammable and dangerous and explosive ?
Mr. HANINGER. No.
Mr. FORISTEL. If we had one barge of sulfur, one of oil, one of gasoline, and one of kerosene in the same tow, then of course we have an inflammable cargo, do we not?
Mr. HANINGER. You have an inflammable cargo. You do not have an inflammable cargo with kerosene, nor with motor oils, or fuel oils.
Mr. FORISTEL. But with gasoline we do?
Mr. FORISTEL. If we mixed that with the entire tow, it is under the regulation of the ICC?
Mr. HANINGER. At present we do not have jurisdiction. If that were true on the railroad, the railroad car would be placarded.
Mr. FORISTEL. With this bill, of course, you would have jurisdiction if that would be the case?
Mr. HANINGER. I do not know how far they intend to go with that bill.
Mr. FORISTEL. With railroads it is true now, is it not?
. Is that true, Mr. Thompson? Mr. THOMPSON. Sulfur is classed as dangerous cargo. Mr. FORISTEL. Under what circumstances ? Mr. THOMPSON. It is classed as dangerous cargo by the Coast Guard. There is a tabulation of a substantial number of dangerous cargo commodities, some 150 or 200. I do not have them. It was pointed out by
a previous witness that any commodity can be classed as dangerous.
Mr. FORISTEL. If any one of those commodities that you talk about as being dangerous were tied together with a mixed cargo, 15 barges
Mr. THOMPSON. The entire cargo would be subject to the same regulations.
The CHAIRMAN. Would the Coast Guard like to comment on that?
Mr. FORISTEL. Is that true—that if it were mixed it would be inflammable?
Commodore SHEPHEARD. Of course, there are cargoes which by themselves are quite innocuous, but when they are in combination with others become dangerous.
Mr. FORISTEL. The complainants here are small barge operators who have four or five barges, and a tug, or a sizable boat, to push them up and down the rivers, and many times they mix their cargoes, do they not?
Mr. THOMPSON. That is true. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Hill? Mr. Hill. I noticed you referred to S. 1141. Is there a similar House bill?
Mr. THOMPSON. To my knowledge, no.
Mr. HILL. I noticed another thing about this bill. It said it was introduced by request. Can you tell us who made the request to the Senate?
Mr. THOMPSON. According to the testimony of the witness for the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Interstate Commerce Commission requested the enactment of this legislation. Witness Perrin so stated in his statement.
Mr. PERRIN. It has been recommended from year to year, since 1943.
Mr. HILL. So it is the Interstate Commerce Commission that is pushing the bill. Is that right!
Mr. PERRIN. I would not say necessarily they are pushing it. They recommended it.
Mr. Hill. Supporting it?
Mr. THOMPSON. Similar legislation has been pending, as the gentleman stated, in previous conferences.
Mr. Crost. Are there any private groups that are interested in seeing the bill passed?
Mr. PERRIN. I could not answer that.
Mr. THOMPSON. To my knowledge, I have no knowledge of it. I do not know a single person identified with the water transportation industry of the United States who is not opposed to the provisions of S. 1141.
Mr. Crost. Do you know of anybody in the transportation industry who is in favor of it?
Mr. THOMPSON. I do not know of any.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Thompson, would you care to comment on the economic effect of the small barge operators?
Mr. THOMPSON. I think the economic effect of the enactment of legislation of this nature upon the small barge operators would be most adverse. It might possibly go to the extent of requiring a remodeling or rehabilitation of certain equipment that would undoubtedly result in compelling them to increase their rates in a highly competitive field, that might be most damaging to a substantial number of the operators represented here.
And that would have a similar effect upon the general distribution of the economy of the country. After all, transportation is distribution.
The effect would be adverse all along the line, as I view it.
Mr. FORISTEL. I would like now to call Mr. Ball, who is a typical small water carrier.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Ball?
Mr. FORISTEL. Will you raise your right hand and be sworn, Mr. Ball ?
The CHAIRMAN. First, would you identify yourself?
Mr. BALL. President and general manager of the Sabine Transportation Co., Port Arthur, Tex.
Mr. FORISTEL. Your full name? Mr. BALL. Munger T. Ball. Mr. FORISTEL. Do you swear the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help
Mr. BALL. I do.
TESTIMONY OF MUNGER T. BALL, PRESIDENT AND GENERAL
MANAGER, SABINE TRANSPORTATION CO., PORT ARTHUR, TEX. The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed.
Mr. BALL. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I have no prepared statement.
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed as you wish.
Mr. BALL. I did not expect to be in attendance. I would like to refer to a few notes that I have made since I arrived in Washington.
The proposed bill, Senate 1141, has no preamble which would indicate what is to be accomplished in the passage of this bill: It is assumed that the proposed amendment to the bill would have for its purpose that the public interest is entitled to protection from the carriers, and operators, whether they be public or private.
In reviewing the bill and the various references and definitions it is my opinion that S. 1141 is to replace expressedly R. S. 4272, as amended (46 Ù. S. 170), and vest the regulation of the transportation of explosives and dangerous articles on board vessels in the Interstate Commerce Commission.
I think probably it might be well to maybe go back a little bit into the history of 4272, and probably that may reveal the real purposes of this bill.
To bring us a little up to date on it, I find this: In 1871 the supervising inspectors of the Steamboat Inspection Service were charged
with the duty of enforcing certain safety provisions on board vessels. This authority was conferred by the act of February 1871 and codified in the Revised Statutes as section 4472.
The act of March 1921, 172, however, amended section 273 of the Criminal Code to authorize the Interstate Commerce Commission to formulate regulations governing the transportation of explosives or other dangerous articles on vessels which were common carriers and regulated and engaged in interstate or foreign commerce.
In the years following 1921 the Interstate Commerce Commission made several attempts to promulgate regulations under that new authority granted them by that act.
The conflicts between the regulation of Interstate Commerce Commission and the regulation of the statutes administered by the Steambot Inspection Service caused such confusion that in 1937 the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation, which was the successor to the Steamboat Inspection Service, undertook the task of drafting new regulations to clarify the situation, with the result that the act of October 1940 (46 U. S. Č. 170) amended R. S. 4472 by making it a complete modern new law for the governing of the carriage of dangerous articles on board vessels.
This act took away from the Interstate Commerce Commission all authority over transportation of explosives or dangerous articles on board vessels, with the exception of a provision making the Interstate Commerce Commission regulations binding upon shippers making shipments of explosives and dangerous articles by a common carrier engaged in interstate or foreign commerce. This control was agreed upon for the sake of uniformity, labeling, and packaging of these articles.
Now, as a result of that new legislation that was enacted in 1940 the Department of Commerce issued this very extensive set of rules and regulations under date of April 9, 1941, on explosives or other dangerous articles on board vessels; and in reading this over, if they missed anything I do not know what it is, because it has every type and description of articles that could be classed dangerous, and in any manner in which it might be carried or handled aboard vessels.
This act, S. 1141, is so broad that anyone carrying any person or anything by water, land, or air, any place, would come under this bill. And that is just pretty broad.
Under the definition of "carriers” and “persons"—under "carriers" you find described water carriers, railroads, truck lines, air lines, and, while it is not mentioned, it will be pipe lines, and would give the Interstate Commerce Commission permission, so far as safety is concerned, as to the regulation of oil from the time it is produced in the well until it reached its ultimate consumer.
I am holding no brief for the railroads, for the truck lines or the pipe lines, nor for the air lines; I am solely concerned with the effect that this bill will have on water carriers and particularly those types of water carriers the majority of whom here today are exempt carriers and carrying exempt products.
While this bill may have therein contained regulation to some types of carriers that well come under, that is for those carriers that may be affected who can speak for themselves, and I think that any reference to vessels or water carriers or legislation pertaining to them, or