The University of Findlay’s All Hazards Training Center has been awarded another substantial federal grant to train volunteers and remote emergency responders on how to properly respond to train derailments involving hazardous materials spills, particularly crude oil.
The $950,000 grant was provided by the Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). It is the third award that Findlay has received from this agency to provide such training.
The funding will be used to conduct approximately 125 one-day training events within an 800-mile radius of Findlay, said training center Executive Director Randy Van Dyne. Participants will learn how to respond to incidents that involve rail shipments of crude oil, ethanol and other flammable liquids.
The one-year grant was competitive, with some contenders being large, federally funded entities that were vying for the funding. The University was one of three nonprofits that PHMSA chose as recipients. Up to $2.4 million was available to award.
Train derailments that result in hazardous materials spills occasionally happen within the city and region. Findlay has two railroads running through it, one owned by CSX and the other by Norfolk Southern. A 2011 derailment in Arcadia, which happened at night after a heavy snowfall, overturned cars containing ethanol and caused a large explosion. Volunteer firefighters were the first to respond to the scene.
Railway spill cleanup requires multifaceted approaches. Responders must contend with the materials themselves, address environmental concerns, in some cases evacuate nearby residents, inform the media, and more.
Through the use of a specially designed mobile rail car simulator, UF’s training participants will receive hands-on instruction in incident control, confinement and containment techniques to protect people, property and the environment. Along with lessons on the hazards involved with flammable liquid spills, this training will also teach responders how to recognize rail car design features and aspects of construction that might impact response strategies.
“The All Hazards Training Center was selected to receive the award because of our long history of successfully delivering hands-on training to first responders across the country,” said Van Dyne.
In 2016 alone, the center taught more than 10,000 people in 235 locations in all 50 states. Topics range from school safety to maritime security. Specific courses are offered throughout the year, and the center offers customized training. For more information, visit www.findlayallhazards.com; or contact Van Dyne at 419-434-4572 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.