Responsible Care

Responsible Care® reinforces BNSF commitments to improve the safety of our operations. Our business processes are mapped to the Responsible Care Code of Management Practices.

Guiding Principles

Responsible Care® is built on a series of 10 Guiding Principles that encompass the philosophy and commitment of each Chemical Manufacturers Association member and partner.

  1. To recognize and respond to community concerns about chemicals and our operations
  2. To develop and produce chemicals that can be manufactured, transported, used and disposed of safely
  3. To make health, safety and environmental considerations a priority in our planning for all existing and new products and processes
  4. To report promptly to officials, employees, customers and the public, information on chemical-related health or environmental hazards and to recommend protective measures
  5. To counsel customers on the safe use, transportation and disposal of chemical products
  6. To operate our plants and facilities in a manner that protects the environment, the health and safety of our employees and the public
  7. To extend knowledge by conducting or supporting research on the health, safety and environmental effects of our products, processes and waste materials
  8. To work with others to resolve problems created by past handling and disposal of hazardous substances
  9. To participate with government and others in creating responsible laws, regulations and standards to safeguard the community, workplace and environment
  10. To promote the principles and practices of Responsible Care® by sharing experiences and offering assistance to others who produce, handle, use, transport or dispose of chemicals

Code of Management Practice Interpretations

Process Safety

BNSF is in business to move products from point A to point B. To do this safely and economically, BNSF must consider: service design; physical plant; route structure; rolling stock maintenance and safety; and employee training in safety, operations, maintenance, regulatory compliance, and environmental areas. All processes affecting the safe execution and delivery of BNSF services are included in the Process Safety Code.

Chemical Producer

BNSF Railway

Concerns everything inside of the plant (from design to maintenance) to prevent accidents

Concerns the processes used in delivering the service without accident

Product Stewardship

As a service provider, BNSF does not have a product to manage; however, we do work with a number of companies in the transport of products and should extend our knowledge to these companies. BNSF will use Product Stewardship to identify all areas that impact the movement of a railcar and work on methods to improve the safety of the entire transportation cycle. These areas include receiving proper billing, Electronic Data Interchange, helping customers load and secure cars, adherence to trip plan, and interaction with connecting railroads or other transportation modes.

Chemical Producer

BNSF Railway

Management of product from cradle to grave

Customer service and interline partners

Pollution Prevention

The Pollution Prevention Code supports the strong environmental initiatives we already have in place at BNSF. This code documents the improvements BNSF has made in the area of pollution prevention. One of the highlights of the BNSF Pollution Prevention process is the Pollution Prevention (P2) Teams that have been implemented at various locations across our system. Where P2 Teams have been implemented, significant reductions in generated waste have been observed and recorded.  

Chemical Producer

BNSF Railway

How to prevent emissions and reduce long term pollution from products

Concerns the processes used in delivering the service without accident

Community Awareness & Emergency Response (CAER)

The Community Awareness and Emergency Response Code supports a number of Evidences of Success in the BNSF Vision Statement. This Code underscores the numerous efforts BNSF already has put in place to effectively work with the communities with which we interact.

BNSF believes that vigorous support of corporate-wide programs, like TRANSCAER and Operation Lifesaver, and location specific outreach programs, such as Adopt-a-School, are very important in improving public awareness and safety around not only BNSF, but all railroads.

While we do not want to have to call on them, BNSF has an extensive network of Emergency Responders trained and capable of handling all types of releases. In addition, BNSF is pursuing and piloting the latest in technology to help us respond more quickly and accurately to an emergency; the Spill Response Geographical Information System.

Chemical Producer

BNSF Railway

Work with individual LEPCs and develop community right-to-know

Work with TRANSCAER and individual LEPCs.

Distribution Code

The Distribution Code was written to manage and reduce the risk of transporting chemicals. We interpret this code to apply when we contract for transportation services and for internal movement of hazardous material. 

BNSF hires a number of third parties to perform distribution services, e.g., bulk tank truck companies, container drayage and material delivery. These contractors and their associated risk and safety assessments fall under this code. In addition, BNSF has numerous internal hazardous material movements that will be governed by this code.

Chemical Producer

BNSF Railway

Assess carriers’ safety and risk. Work with TRANSCAER to further safety.

Assess contract carriers’ and contractors’ safety and risk. Complete assessment of internal movements.

Health & Safety

The Employee Health and Safety Code supports a number of Evidences of Success in the BNSF Vision Statement. The code underscores the strong effort BNSF has placed on improving the safety of employees and their work environment. 

BNSF has seen significant reductions in employee injuries. Continued emphasis in this area will result in further improvement to our employees' safety.

Chemical Producer

BNSF Railway

Improve work environment to reduce employee injuries

Improve work environment to reduce employee injuries

Spill Response Geographical Information System

BNSF has partnered with Radian International to develop developed a Spill Response Geographical Information System (SRGIS). BNSF is taking a leadership position with the transportation community, the public, chemical shippers and regulatory agencies to provide quicker and more effective emergency response capabilities.


  • A system based upon personal computer technology with easy to use graphical user interface.
  • The user will be able to locate points of interest by either pointing to a location on a map or entering a division and milepost.
  • Immediate access to procedures based upon:
    • The substance and quantity spilled
    • Regulatory requirements
    • BNSF policies
    • Guidance from shippers
    • Public relations
  • Immediate access to information concerning the railroad infrastructure at the site of the spill.
  • Immediate access to information concerning the demographics of the surroundings within +/- 2.5 miles of the right-of-way, such as population density, rivers and streams, roads, sensitive receptors, etc.
  • Immediate access to points of contact for response support, including cognizant railroad employees, fire departments, EMS, local law enforcement, etc.
  • Immediate information access to over 10,500 hazardous materials.
  • Inclusion of an air dispersion model.
  • In the future, ability to incorporate risk models such as the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Quantitative Risk Model.


  • Allows rapid location of incidents
  • Improves spill response efficiency
  • Users will be able to obtain immediate access to:
    • Information concerning the railroad infrastructure at the site of the spill.
    • Demographics of the surroundings within +/- 2.5 miles of the right of way, such as population density, rivers and streams, roads, sensitive receptors, etc.
    • Points of contact for response support, including cognizant railroad employees, fire departments, EMS, local law enforcement, etc.
    • Information about over 10,500 hazardous materials.

American Chemistry Council's Top 10 Railroad Issues

The following is a list of recommendations from the American Chemistry Council’s Region 1 Rail Task Group:

Top 10 Items for Railroad Issues

1. Establish, document, communicate and implement

  • a company wide securement policy with defined practices
  • a company wide preventive maintenance program for tank cars
  • a procedure for tank car customers to report poor securement, hard to operate valves and other fitting problems
  • a company wide tank care securement training program.

2. After loading, leak test the car by applying at least 10 psig of pressure over the maximum estimated transportation pressure. All valves, packing gland nuts, closure and flanges should be checked using leak detection solution or ultrasonic instrument. After completing the leak test, pressure should be released or reduced.

If pressure test is impractical or unsafe, the car should be held and re-inspected after twenty-four (24) hours and valves and fittings re-tightened as needed to ensure proper securement.

3. Perform proper pre-loading and post-loading inspections.
4. Perform extra inspection of valves/domes for tightness (one of the leading causes of leaks/spills in rail and transportation incidents).
5. Review shipping papers to ensure proper data is present.
6. Ensure that the Emergency Response Plan is:

  • Corrected and updated for plant site and transportation related release.
  • Exercised annually. Ensure that emergency contacts for the railroad are correct

7. Ensure rail lines are clear, switches are aligned properly, and car brakes are released before moving cars.
8. Ensure that all railroad personnel that enter the plant site are properly trained/oriented (especially for emergency actions).
9. Ensure that all rail crossings within the plant site are properly marked with warning signs.
10. Always have plant personnel accompany rail crews when they are operating within the plant site.