Norfolk Southern conducts hazmat spill training

Norfolk Southern hosts accident training

Norfolk Southern railroad hosted a safety training event for first responders Tuesday morning.

Instructors were at the Brosnan Rail yard in Macon to help prepare first responders for accidents like hazardous material spills.

Norfolk Southern's Robert Wood said that "hazmat response is a team effort."

That team effort's important when there are so many moving parts.

Brosnan Rail yard control tower operator Richie Collins said, "it does get extremely busy here we have lots of trains that come in to Macon."

350 trains a week pass through the Macon rail yard and with them, 10,000 railcars.

The cars carry everything from timber and raw metals to commercial goods like electronics and clothing. And, some transport hazardous materials like spent nuclear fuel.

An accident isn't likely, but with so much traffic it's not impossible.

The federal railroad administration says it investigated 53 train accidents of all types in Georgia last year. Nine of them were in Bibb County.

If a hazmat spill does happen, its impact could be widespread.

Norfolk Southern's Robert Wood said that accidents are rare, but "because of the sheer volumes we carry, they can be large scale incidents."

Tuesday's training aimed to prepare first responders for that 'what-if' scenario. Peach County Assistant Fire Chief Tim Bechtel says he's walking away feeling ready. 

"I wouldn't say [we're] ready for anything, but we're ready for just about anything. You know, we try our best and that's...all that we can do."

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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