Emergency Response Training Needed for Railways

Based on the spate of recent oil train crashes—most notoriously, 2013’s deadly crashes in Lac Mégantic, Quebec and outside Fargo, North Dakota—New Jersey lawmakers are discussing bills specific to what they deem “high-hazard trains”.

According to NJ.com, the issue centers around specialized disaster training for local emergency personnel, something that one of the bill’s primary sponsors, assemblyman Gordon Johnson, said he was unsure New Jersey’s first responders are equipped to handle. Legislators also want railroads to file environmental cleanup plans with the state officials.

Spokesman for The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management Lee Moore told NJ.com that although initial training and seminars about the Bakken oil disaster have begun for first responders, oil train movement is largely untracked, apart from “an initial notification stating ‘a range of trains coming through’ and the rail lines affected”. Moore also told NJ.com that the U.S. Department of Transportation does not require carriers to provide specific scheduling information.

With five oil train derailments this year alone, facilities such as Texas A&M University, which can simulate a disaster using flammable rail cars, are in high demand, Dennis St. John, private sector director of Texas A&M's Engineering Extension Service, told NJ.com. He says emergency workers are now traveling to Texas from Maryland and New Jersey. The facility is currently in the process of adding derailment simulations.

 

To read the whole article, visit: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2015/05/are_emergency_workers_ready_if_an_oil_train_disaster_strikes_nj.html