West Virginia Derailment Responders Learn from Past

According to mcclatchydc.com, emergency response and training has changed dramatically since a 1978 Waverly, Tenn. deadly rail explosion. A recent West Virginia derailment highlighted what emergency personnel have learned since then.

For example: (excerpt from article, link below)

After a CSX train carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire near Mount Carbon, W.Va., last week, local firefighters could have sprayed water and foam on the blaze like they would any other.

But they didn’t do that. Instead, they evacuated residents, kept a safe distance and let the fire burn out, which took four days. This counterintuitive move likely prevented contamination of the Kanawha River, a local source of drinking water.

It also may have saved the lives of residents and first responders alike. In spite of several powerful explosions of tank cars, no one was killed and only one resident suffered minor injuries.

“One of the real points of progress over the past few years is the training of local first responders on how to deal with these events,” Peter Goelz, former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board told McClatchy DC.

Another excerpted example of improvements over the years, according to McClatchy DC:

Part of the improvement in emergency response has come from the railroads themselves, which have become more engaged with emergency responders. A lack of communication between the railroad and the police and fire departments in Waverly, as well as inadequate training and equipment, contributed to the deadly outcome, investigators concluded.

Though the Tennessee accident happened many years before railroads began moving massive quantities of crude oil and ethanol, communication and training remain critical to an effective emergency response.

In October, CSX held a three-day training class at its rail yard in South Charleston, W.Va. Many of the fire departments that responded to last week’s derailment attended.

Those departments included Kanawha County; Charleston, the state capital; South Charleston; and Montgomery, which lies a few miles west of the derailment site.

CSX brought its “Safety Train” to 19 cities last year, including many on oil train routes. The train features a classroom, different types of tank cars, and instructors who help first responders become familiar with railroad equipment.


For more information, see the original article here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/02/24/257663/preparedness-key-to-west-virginia.html