BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Different trains carrying a variety of hazardous material move through Western New York neighborhoods every day.
In case of emergency, first responders need to know what’s on these cars and what equipment they’ll need to handle it.
Michael Bethge, a manager with CSX, handles their hazardous materials systems.
He said, “Every response is different, every train is different no two trains are made up the same.”
Thursday, CSX brought its safety train to Buffalo to give local agencies a chance to see what they’re up against. Several local agencies, including the Coast Guard and Seneca Nation’s Emergency Management Agency, attended the rail yard training.
Carla Groleau with CSX’s Corporate Communications Department said, “Getting out here, getting outside climbing on top of some of these tanks, looking at these valves, hands on.”
Some information on these trains is available right away, but details on hazardous materials often aren’t available until a first responder gets on the scene.
There is debate about how much real-time information about the materials on these trains should be easily accessible because there’s fear over that information ending up in the wrong hands.
But in an emergency, there’s no debate over how much these first responders need to know.
Jeffrey Hartman, the head of the Erie County Regional Hazardous Materials Team, said, “The emergency responders that are going to be out there, first responding to an incident need to know what they’re looking at the more information that they have the more likely they’re going to make the right decision early on so they don’t inadvertently make something worse.”
The other piece of this is prevention and there is still a big push to get federal regulators to tighten regulations and keep older train cars off the tracks.