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County schedules trainings on campus emergencies, rail incidents involving toxic chemicals

Times-Tribune - 5/28/2024

Lackawanna County’s Emergency Management Agency scheduled training sessions later this year on campus emergencies and rail car incidents involving toxic materials — two different but crucial public safety issues.

Registration is required for both classes, which will take place at the county 911 Center, 30 Valley View Drive, Jessup.

The county agency, the Northeast Pennsylvania Regional Counter Terrorism Task Force, the Center for Rural Development and the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium will present the rail-related session Sept. 28, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

It’s designed to train first responders on how to deal with derailments, crashes and other rail car incidents where toxic materials are involved.

The local session follows the February 2023 derailment of a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying vinyl chloride, combustible liquid and other hazardous materials in the small village of East Palestine, Ohio. The area was subsequently evacuated, with officials wary of potential explosions conducting a controlled burn-off of vinyl chloride that sent large black plumes into the air.

A federal judge recently approved a $600 million class-action settlement over the incident near the Ohio/Pennsylvania border. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice also announced a separate, $310 million settlement with Norfolk Southern, which must pay for environmental cleanup efforts and make safety improvements to mitigate the future risk of similar crises.

First responders interested in participating in the late September training will be able to register at ruraltraining.org.

The other training, “Campus Emergencies: Prevention, Response and Recovery,” will be presented Oct. 16 and 17 by the county EMA and the Louisiana State University National Center for Biomedical Research and Training/Academy of Counter-Terrorism Education.

It’s designed to train school personnel of all levels, first responders, elected officials and other stakeholders to cooperatively respond to emergencies on campuses. Participants will learn “nationally accepted emergency management principals that can be used to address the wide range of threats and hazards educational entities face,” according to a course description.

Registration is available online at train.ncbrt.lsu.edu/student/register by using the Class ID 32345 and the access code NCBRT324.

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