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In Light of East Palestine Disaster, Northampton County to Offer Derailment Response Classes | WDIY Local News

An aerial view of the Norfolk Southern freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio captured on Feb. 5.
National Transportation Safety Board
Public Domain
An aerial view of the Norfolk Southern freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio captured on Feb. 5.

Northampton County will offer a variety of training classes on how to respond to train derailments over the next several months.

According to a news release, Northampton County Emergency Management Services will offer several free training classes to emergency responders on how to address both rail and pipeline incidents.

The classes are scheduled to start on April 15, and will run through the end of the summer.

The sessions include foam firefighting classes, rail car responses involving crude, ethanol and other flammable liquids, natural gas utility emergencies, as well as awareness and response training, among other subjects.

The classes are scheduled as follows:

  • ICS-400: Advanced Incident Command System (ICS) for Command and General Staff, Complex Incidents and Multiagency Coordination Groups  April 15
  • Rail Car Incidents Response for Crude, Ethanol & Other Flammable Liquids – June 3
  • Norfolk Southern Operation Awareness & Response Training – June 12
  • Norfolk Southern Operation Awareness & Response Training – June 17
  • Responding to Utility Emergencies: Natural Gas – June 22
  • Large Diameter Hose – July 8-9
  • Foam Fire Fighting Basic – July 10-17
  • Foam Fire Fighting Technician – July 24-31
  • Rural Fire Ground Water Movement – July 22-23
  • Tanker Water Supply – July 29-30
  • Flammable Liquid Fire Fighting – Aug. 5-6

The county said any class that uses foam will only use environmentally-friendly training foam. Responders and emergency management personnel can sign up for classes here.

The classes come in the wake of a major freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio on Feb. 3. 11 of the derailed cars contained hazardous materials, including chemicals like vinyl chloride and propylene.

According to Carl Belke, President of the Keystone State Railroad Association, as much as 40% of freight transported by rail each year in Pennsylvania is considered a hazardous material.

In a statement, Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure said it is important that emergency managers become educated about the dangers and hazards around rail cars loaded with hazardous materials.

He added that “participation in these courses will help first responders understand how to respond to a potential train derailment in our community.”

Regarding regional emergency responses multiple emergency services, including two EMS agencies and 23 fire companies, were involved in responding to a massive warehouse fire in West Easton on Tuesday.

The fire broke out around 5 a.m., and crews battled the flames for hours before Incident Command declared the fire under control just before noon.

According to reports, officials said some of the businesses inside did have hazardous waste or materials, though there were no reports of environmental concerns or injuries.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, along with a hazmat team, was dispatched to the site to conduct air quality and water runoff testing.

(Original air-date: 4/5/23)

Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky is WDIY's News and Public Affairs Director.
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