OMAHA, Neb., May 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Union Pacific Railroad named 63 companies as annual Pinnacle Award recipients for chemical transportation safety. The award recognizes Union Pacific customers that implemented successful prevention and corrective plans and achieved a rate of zero non-accident releases (NARs) for regulated hazardous materials shipments. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110304/LA59497LOGO) "From the soda ash used to make soaps, detergent and paper to the fertilizer that enriches our crops, railroads are the safest way to move the chemicals Americans depend on daily. We work closely with our customers, sharing best practices to ensure these goods are moved as safely as possible," said Beth Whited, Union Pacific vice president and general manager-Chemicals. "Our Pinnacle Award recipients demonstrate every day their commitment to eliminate chemical releases from rail cars, and we acknowledge their dedication to safety." The Pinnacle Award program, which began in 1996, is open to all Union Pacific hazardous material shippers, including chemical and petrochemical customers. Criteria include safe-loading techniques, securement of shipments and zero NARs. A non-accident release is an unintentional release of hazardous material during transportation not caused by an accident or train derailment. NARs consist of leaks, splashes and other releases from improperly secured or defective valves, fittings, safety relief devices and tank shells. Non-accident releases of hazardous material in tank cars have declined more than 13 percent on Union Pacific's network from 2004-2012, due in part to increased inspections by the railroad's hazardous materials safety field personnel and customers adhering to the Pinnacle Award criteria. Rail is the safest way to move these materials. Accident rates for main track, track-caused and equipment-caused accidents all continued to decrease, setting new lows in 2012, according to data from the Federal Railroad Administration. Union Pacific's rail network allows the company to serve the large chemical complexes along the Gulf Coast. Roughly two-thirds of the company's chemical business originates, terminates or travels through this area. Union Pacific's chemical transportation network also serves chemical producers in the Rocky Mountains and on the West Coast.