The Columbia County Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee unanimously approved a resolution to work with the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Emergency Management Statewide Geographic Response Plan Initiative.
The initiative was originally designed to help the 21 counties that saw the highest volume of Bakken crude oil transported by rail to become better prepared to handle an emergency involving hazardous materials.
Robert Lopez, Director of Columbia County 911, said “The initiative had such success they decided to open it up to other counties and other hazards. At the end of the day, it helps to talk about these ideas. We are facilitating a conversation and brainstorming possible hazards for areas near the railway. We would likely focus the initiative around portions of the rail lines in Hudson and the Boston line that lie within the county and the hazards they present to communities within the county. This will involve all county emergency agencies and fire departments and it is what we call an all-hazards approach. We will discuss anything and everything that could happen in areas near the railway. It could be a fuel tank leak or a derailment. We will brainstorm possible hazards that could happen around the railway and how it applies to that area.”
The final product will serve as a first responders guidebook. It will include vital information such as evacuation zones, potential access points to different areas, water sources, and the locations of critical facilities like schools and prisons. It will be then be distributed to fire departments along the railway in New Baltimore, Coxsackie, Athens, West Athens and Catskill.
County to create response plan for railroad hazardous materials