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Goodfellow, Thomas M., president, Association of American Rail-
roads, presented by R. R. Manion, vice president, operations and
Cliff, S. Barrie, vice president and general manager, Koehler-Dayton
Division, Litton Industries, Inc., Dayton, Ohio: Statement-
Health Service, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare:
Letter dated May 4, 1970, re railroad car sanitation -
roads: Data re number of locomotives, cabooses, and passenger-
carrying cars equipped with toilets-----
Letter to Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Robert
Finch dated December 19, 1969.
Appendix III.-Applicable excerpts from Public Health Service Act of
Food and Drugs.
Commission/Railway Transport Committee, April 2, 1969-
discharge of wastes from trains.-
regarding retention facilities -
101 119 125 132
ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION: DISCHARGE OF RAW
HUMAN WASTES FROM RAILROAD TRAINS
TUESDAY, JULY 28, 1970
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., in room 2247, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Henry S. Reuss (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding,
Present: Representatives Henry S. Reuss, Jim Wright, Floyd V. Hicks, Guy Vander Jagt, and Gilbert Gude.
Staff members present: Phineas Indritz, chief counsel; Clement Dinsmore, legal assistant, and Josephine Scheiber, research analyst.
Mr. Reuss. Good morning. The House Subcommittee on Conservation and Natural Resources of the Government Operations Committee will be in order for a hearing on the discharge of human wastes from railroad cars.
Our hearing today concerns the practice by the railroad industry in this country of discharging human wastes, garbage, and other polluting materials from railway cars onto rail rights-of-way. According to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare about 24 million pounds or 16 million gallons of human wastes are discharged annually from toilets in locomotives and cabooses. About 19,500,000 gallons of untreated concentrated human wastes are discharged from noncommuter passenger cars.
The Surgeon General, who is authorized by law to prohibit the discharge of “excrement, garbage, waste water, or other polluting material" from interstate conveyances, has prohibited such discharges from all airplanes and buses. [The law referred to, the Public Health Service Act of 1944 (58 Stat. 703), as amended (42 U.S.C. 264), is printed in the appendix of this hearing record.]
As to railroads, the Surgeon General has prohibited such discharges from any railway car while it passes over "areas designated by the Surgeon General.” However, the Surgeon General has never designated any areas, outside stations or car servicing areas, where the discharge of human excrement or other polluting material is prohibited.
Thus, the Surgeon General's regulations are a declaration of policy that is meaningless as to railroad cars outside of stations and servicing areas. Furthermore, the railroads often fail to prevent waste discharges even within stations and servicing areas.
As long ago as 1946 a study financed by the Association of American Railroads concluded that:
At times and in particular places the disposal of sewage from railway conveyances has been improper in relation to the environment and persons, and, therefore, constituted a nuisance.
Americans today are becoming less tolerant of pollution, ugliness, smells, and other attacks on their sensibilities.
During the past 20 years, there have been significant improvements in methods and equipment for controlling human waste disposal. These improvements have reduced the costs of improving the railroads' practice of discharging wastes directly from trains onto the roadbed. It is time that we reevaluate the railroads' filthy waste disposal systems in light of our new awareness of environmental pollution and the reduced costs of more modern waste disposal systems.
Our first witness will be the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, Dr. Charles C. Edwards, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, accompanied by Dr. Albert Kolbye, Deputy Director, Bureau of Foods, Pesticides, and Product Safety, the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
Dr. Edwards, would you identify your other associates ?
Dr. EDWARDS. Dr. Kolbye and I are the principal witnesses representing the Food and Drug Administration.
Mr. Reuss. And you have, at our request, submitted a prepared statement, which we appreciate, and which under the rule will be made part of the record without objection.
STATEMENT OF DR. CHARLES C. EDWARDS, COMMISSIONER OF FOOD
AND DRUGS, PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE; ACCOMPANIED BY DR. ALBERT C. KOLBYE, JR., DEPUTY DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF FOODS, PESTICIDES, AND PRODUCT SAFETY, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE
Dr. Edwards. We appreciate this opportunity to be with the members of the subcommittee today to discuss the practice of discharging untreated raw human waste from railroad conveyances, its potential adverse health effects, and the means of remedying such practices,
In the judgment of the Food and Drug Administration, it is neither necessary nor acceptable that this human waste should appear on land proximate to, and, in many instances, within, our cities.
Basic health and sanitary practices demand, and the public is entitled to, an environment free of the surface disposal of untreated human waste.
The authority to regulate the sanitary practices of interstate conveyances is derived from section 361(a) of the Public Health Service Act, as delegated, which authorizes the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, with the approval of the Secretary, to make and enforce such regulations as in his judgment are necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission or spread of communicable disease from State to State. Such a finding must be based on a scientific correlation link
ing discharge of human waste to the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable disease from State to State. These interstate quarantine regulations currently require both aircraft and buses to retain their wastes on board and to dispose of them in an approved manner at properly designated, constructed, and operated servicing areas. Railroad conveyances, including locomotives, cabooses, and passenger cars, are not so restricted and, as you know, dispose of untreated human waste by simply discharging it along the right-of-way. However, toilets must be kept locked when conveyances are at a station or servicing area unless means are provided to prevent contamination of the area or station.
Mr. Chairman, the scientific evidence is not conclusive on the correlation mentioned above. Present disposal practices appear to result in the possible transmission of hookworm, a possible risk of salmonella and shigella transmission, the potential transmission of disease by domestic animals, and present a potential for contamination of water supplies.
On the other side of the issue, however, is the often quoted Maxcy study conducted in 1946, conducted by the Public Health Service, which concluded:
It can, therefore, be stated with reasonable assurance that information at present fails to establish the existence of a public health menace, resulting from the method of disposal of fecal wastes employed by railways.
Further, the National Communicable Disease Center, in May of 1970, took the position that: Dr. Maxcy's comment are as valid today as they were in 1946.
Very frankly, Mr. Chairman, while I strongly believe the discharge practice to be antiquated, deplorable, and offensive to our sensibilities, I must reluctantly conclude that the evidence required under the Public Health Service Act to link discharge with introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable disease from State to State is not present at this time.
However, Mr. Chairman, we are proposing the following three steps:
First of all, we will publish in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking requiring that railroad passenger cars, locomotives, and cabooses constructed after December 1971 be fitted with full retention facilities when sanitary facilities are required.
Secondly, we will very shortly publish in the Federal Register a petition submitted by Mr. Ralph Nader, inviting comments and whatever evidence he, the scientific community, or anyone else may have on this matter and on the magnitude and complexity of retrofitting.
Thirdly, we intend to continue our discussions with other Federal agencies having regulatory authority over railroads and with the railroads regarding the complexity of installing retention facilities on existing railroad conveyances having sanitary facilities.
We, at the Food and Drug Administration, are aware that it will be costly to remedy this practice. The figures published by the Association of American Railroads show that there were more than 27,000 locomotive units in service on class 1 railroads (yearbook of Railroad Facts, 1970 Edition, Association of American Railroads, Class 1 Rail