Large HazMat training need identified for volunteer fire departments - It took nearly one hour to identify chemicals in East Palestine derailment
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On the night that a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, it took nearly an hour for first responders there to find out what chemicals were onboard, according to ABC News.
On June 22-23, two days of hearings were held by the US National Transportation Safety Board on what went wrong in the the Feb. 3 derailment involving the train derailment that led to an intentional release of the toxic chemical Vinyl Chloride.
The derailment led to one of the biggest evacuations from a U.S. rail accidents in years. State and federal officials have indicated the air and water are safe - however there are residents in the area that have fears about the long-term impact of their health from the chemicals released, including vinyl chloride.
The train company Norfolk Southern faces multiple lawsuits over the derailment.
During the hearing, regional manager hazardous materials for Norfolk Southern, Scott Deutsch, was questioned. The board asked him to explain why it took so long for firefighters to get to the train wreckage, to figure out what kind of fire they were facing and how to protect their crews.
Among the issues the NTSB is dealing with at these East Palestine hearings is the need for more training to prepare firefighters to deal with hazardous materials.
Witnesses testified that it is particularly challenging to get adequate training for volunteer fire departments, including those that responded to the East Palestine derailment, which already struggle to maintain enough volunteers and funding to meet their needs.