DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Hazmat crews were seen plugging a leak in an overturned train tanker Thursday morning as part of a training exercise between the Fort Payne Fire Department and Norfolk Southern.
First responders were out at a used tanker simulating the procedures for a sulfuric acid leak from a de-railed train.
“There’s a lot of training that goes into this.,” Norfolk Southern representative Cris Burch said during the simulation. “They have to go through years of training to be able to go approach a tank car. So today was kind of that first step to go over some of the things we can do for a tank car that they can get done before we get on-site with ourselves and our contractors.”
Burch oversees the management of hazardous materials for the railway company, they are in charge of transporting such goods throughout the Southeast.
He explained that hazmat training helps prepare fire departments for the unknown.
“Railroads – we move products 99.99% of the time safely, but we have to make sure they’re trained in case something would go wrong. This gives Fort Payne the utmost and up-to-date training they could possibly get in case there’s an emergency on the rail,” Burch told News 19.
Fort Payne Mayor Brian Baine said a dangerous spill like the simulated sulfuric acid lead has never happened in DeKalb County before but says protecting the public should always come before an incident, not after.
“We would hope that nothing would ever happen in the future with a derailment, but there are lots of chemicals that come down these tracks every day. And so it’s nice to have that opportunity to be trained in a situation if we were to have something happen,” Mayor Baine said.
Burch added with the donation of the used tanker any fire department from Alabama, Tennessee or Georgia can use the Fort Payne site to conduct similar training for their teams.