What are trains hauling near you? Questions raised after hazardous derailment in Ohio
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - In the wake of a hazardous train derailment in Ohio, among many questions that surfaced is how you can know what is traveling through your area on trains that roll by. The answers aren’t clear as companies don’t have to report what they’re hauling. That means if there’s a derailment, you might not know about any hazards until after the fact.
Many trains do haul hazardous materials, but unlike buildings that store the same materials, train companies don’t have to report what they’re hauling to state or local authorities.
“...There’s not those same reporting requirements, so we don’t have locally a database of, ‘here’s all the things that are going through our community every day on those train lines,” Butler County Emergency Management Director Keri Korthals explained.
In the case of derailment, no one, not even firefighters know what they might encounter.
“As emergency responders are arriving on scene, as witnesses are seeing the crash, they don’t know initially when they’re approaching it until they’ve made contact with the engineer , made contact with the train company,” Korthals said.
So, the only way to know what a train is hauling is to look at hazard placards as the cars pass. Do the same research first responders do with an emergency response guidebook.
“That information is actually available to the general public right on their cell phones. They can look up that ERG (Emergency Response Guidebook) app and load it on their phones and they can search for the different configuration of tank cars so they can match up,” Korthals said.
This also tells you about the materials being hauled.
“Not only does it tell them what the chemicals are, they can read some things about (information including), ‘what are some first aid actions or precautions?’” Korthals said.
But, in the event you ever find yourself near a derailment, never take it upon yourself to check it out.
“If you come up on a train derailment, I would say stay clear until you get further information from authorities or whether or not it’s safe to be in that area,” Korthals said.
Butler County has put in a lot of planning for this type of disaster. This includes a reverse 911 notification system. You can register your cell phone to receive notifications here: https://www.bucoks.com/205/Reverse-9-1-1-Self-Registration.
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