Lee County preparations following Ohio train derailment

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 6:26 PM EST
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LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WTVM) - Lee County officials are preparing for safety measures following the recent toxic chemical train derailment. In East Alabama railroad lines for CXS and Norfolk Southern surround the Auburn/Opelika area.

Officials say you never know when a hazardous spill could take place...if this type of situation were to occur an alert will be sent out to residents.. to either stay inside or drive to safe shelter locations.. one item officials recommend is a roll of duct tape... to tape your window cracks to keep toxic fumes from getting inside.

It’s been more than two weeks since a train holding hazardous chemicals derailed in East Palestine...near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.

Five of the derailed train cars were carrying over 115,000 gallons of vinyl chloride...a toxic substance that can increase the risk of cancer and is highly flammable.

In cities like Auburn and Opelika trains pass through the community every day and first responders are preparing for worst case scenario situations while also reminding residents of the protocols.

Fire Inspector Bob Parsons said all firefighters in the area have hazardous material training and 32 are specially trained in the operations part… Parsons says if a spill were to happen they first identify the substance using a book called the emergency response guide to navigate certain hazardous situations.

“It’s book that houses an enormous amount of information about hazardous materials, toxicity, what type of protection equipment we should be wearing when were dealing with it and the ways to medicate particular spills for particular substances,” said Fire Inspector Bob Parsons.

According to Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Austin Jones Guide 116 shows how officials handled the situation in Ohio… and evacuation measures for residents… Jones said once the product is identified they work with responders on scene to figure out what type of alert is sent out to residents.

“Is it a shelter in place is it an evacuation and what guidance is needed for the citizens and so we would be sending those alerts out using wireless emergency alert systems and text alert systems and and public safety apps,” said Deputy Director Austin Jones.

Jones said similar to severe weather, shelter locations would be announced to those who live close to the spill.

“We feel confident and ready we have the resources and the personnel to undertake any type of emergency if it were to occur,” said Fire Inspector Bob Parsons.

For a list of items to keep on you if a hazardous spill were to occur click here.

For the EMA app click here.