Fire chiefs and others who were the first to be dispatched to the scene of a train derailment caused by a fire in eastern Japan in February Ohio Firefighters need more training on dangerous chemicals, but they all agree that they will never be fully prepared to deal with a disaster of that magnitude.
Their evidence was heard as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) held unusual field hearings over the next two days in East Palestine, Ohio.
Thursday’s meeting focused on the emergency response to the derailment and the key decisions officials made in the days ahead. Releases toxic vinyl chloride Load 5 tank cars and burn them so they don’t explode.
The decision caused black smoke to rise in towns near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border and forced about half of the 5,000 residents of eastern Palestine to evacuate. Officials defended the decision as the best option in the face of a possible explosion that would fly debris into the town.
But residents still have many questions. Potential long-lasting health effects Despite state and federal officials saying tests showed the town’s air and water remained safe.
East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Dravik said there was consensus within the command that releasing chemicals from cars and burning them was the “worst option”.
But Dravik and other first responders who testified at the hearing said firefighters, especially volunteer firefighters who were the first to go to the scene after a derailment, needed more training in how to handle hazardous materials. Agreed.
“I think it’s never possible to prepare for something like this,” Dravik said.
Ohio officials said volunteer firefighters receive only 36 hours of initial training to become certified, significantly less than the 200 hours that professional firefighters receive, and that it does not include hazardous materials training.
Fire chiefs said the initial response to the derailment was complicated because the radios used by each department were not linked to each other.
Also, the first firefighters to the scene did not have access to the AskRail app developed by the railroad company to provide information, making it difficult for emergency responders to know exactly what the train was carrying. It took time. The train crew who had the information was a mile away after moving the locomotive and could not immediately contact emergency responders.
Dravik said it took his department about 45 minutes to gather information about what was inside the train.
Since the February 3 derailment, the railway company has been working to dig up and remove contaminated soil and water from the derailment site. The Environmental Protection Agency and Ohio officials oversee the cleanup.
Southern Norfolk spent more than $62 million to help rebuild the town. The company expects the derailment to cause nearly $400 million in damage, some of which will be covered by insurance, and other companies found responsible may be required to contribute. said there is. But the total cost will likely increase over time as the various lawsuits filed by the state, federal government, and residents move through the courts.
The NTSB said in it: preliminary report Overheating of a bearing in one of the rail cars is believed to be the cause of the derailment, but it could be over a year before authorities release a final report. According to sensors installed along the track by the Norfolk Southern Railway, bearings began to heat up several miles before the derailment, but did not get hot enough to sound an alarm until just before the crash. The crew had little time to react.
Due to the derailment accident and several derailment accidents since February, national concern About railway safety and alerts Member of Parliament Propose a reform package. Norfolk Southern Railway chief Alan Shaw was criticized at two Senate hearings, where he apologized for the derailment and promised to rectify the situation in East Palestine.
All Democrats on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee sent a letter to Shaw, which was released Thursday morning. It expressed its dissatisfaction with the railroad’s refusal to provide required documents regarding the use of trackside detectors and some of its operational decisions. To cut costs, the company cut its workforce and increased production in recent years.
The railroad follows industry practice and relies on running longer, fewer trains to avoid the need for more crews and locomotives. Railroad unions have expressed concern that all cuts are making railroads riskier, but executives have defended their approach.
An attorney for Southern Norfolk told a congressional committee that the railroad could not release internal documents because the NTSB investigation was ongoing. Commission Democrats rejected that explanation, saying the NTSB investigation did not prevent the commission from investigating the matter and that the railroads were aware of it. So far, the railroad has provided only two small batches of documents that appear to be publicly available.
“We are deeply troubled by Southern Norfolk’s unlawful efforts to mislead the Democratic Commission and use the NTSB investigation as a shield to impede Congressional oversight,” the 21 Democrats wrote in the letter. Stated.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jun/22/ohio-trail-derailment-east-palestine-hearing Ohio Derailment: Fire Chiefs Call for More Training on Toxic Chemicals | Ohio Train Derailment