Local Emergency Management Agency has a plan - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Local Emergency Management Agency has a plan

Albany- In January two trains collided in South Carolina causing the release of hazardous materials. This caused nine fatalities and hundreds more to be hospitalized.

Emergency officials don't know how much or even when possible deadly chemicals are passing through by freight.

"Through interstate commerce there may be vehicles that actually pass through our community that we may not be aware of what they're actually carrying on board," says Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Vaught.

That's because the railroads aren't obligated to notify local officials when those materials are in route for security reasons.

But Dougherty County's Emergency Management Agency says they're prepared for the worst. "The community has gotten together and has produced a product called the pre-disaster mitigation plan and in that we look at all the different types of natural and man-made disasters that may affect our community," says Vaught.

Man-made disasters like train derailments are a big concern for officials. If one of these trains were to derail, they say they're prepared to uphold their number one concern, public safety. Many trains carry hazardous materials such as chlorine, propane and even vinyl chloride, all potentially deadly chemicals in the event of a derailment.

But officials say Albany is fully qualified to prevent a local catastrophe. "The fire department has a hazardous materials team that's quite well trained and we have members on it that are not only locally but state certified and nationally certified as hazardous materials responders."

And the plan is expected to reduce or prevent safety hazards that could impact South Georgia. Whether it be a tanker truck or a fire that gets out of hand or a train that maybe derails for whatever reason, it's in the plan and it's been evaluated and emergency workers say they've got us covered.

posted by len.kiese@walb.com

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