Two major Eastern railroads have filed lawsuits against the Maryland Department of Environment to block it from disclosing their shipments of crude oil through the state, according to court records.

Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation claim the release of the information would pose a security threat and compromise commercially sensitive information, according to complaints filed in Baltimore Circuit Court.

The federal government began requiring railroads in May to report all shipments of more than one million gallons of Bakken crude oil to emergency officials in the states the shipments pass through, following several rail accidents involving the volatile fuel.

Norfolk Southern and CSX say Tom Levering, director of emergency preparedness planning for the environment department, which monitors fuel shipments through the state, was named as their emergency contact in Maryland and signed confidentiality agreements promising to protect the data as proprietary information.

However, after reporters with McClatchy and the Associated Press filed state Public Information Act requests for the reports last month, the agency notified the railroads that it would be releasing the documents on July 24 unless the companies took legal action. Attorneys for the agency said Levering was not authorized to sign an agreement in conflict with the public information law.

Norfolk Southern filed a complaint for injunctive relief July 23. CSX did the same the following day. Both have since filed for temporary restraining orders in the case.

Marc A. Campsen, an attorney with Baltimore-based Wright, Constable & Skeen who is representing both railroads, declined to comment. Assistant Attorney General Ellen Cohill, who is representing the environment department, also declined to comment.

The state has said it will withhold the records until the court rules on the railroads' motions.

krector@baltsun.com

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