Lynchburg completes study to better prepare for hazardous emergencies

An LFD Hazmat book (WDBJ7)
An LFD Hazmat book (WDBJ7)(WDBJ)
Published: Nov. 15, 2017 at 5:40 PM EST
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New information is helping emergency response teams to keep Lynchburg residents safe.

The study was spurred after a CSX train derailed in Lynchburg back in 2014, the wreckage sparked a large explosion.

The derailment left emergency crews responding to an oil spill without immediate knowledge of what kind of oil the train was carrying.

Although the hazardous material was quickly identified, it left local leaders wondering about all the others commodities traveling through the city on a daily basis. "The derailment made us realize that we needed to fill that gap. That there was that one more piece of preparedness we needed to focus on," explained Melissa Foster, the Director of Emergency Services.

The study helps responders to be aware of hazardous materials that trucks and other vehicles are carrying on roads and highways. "It's not just about what's on the rail, it's also about what's on the roadway," said

Greg Wormser, the Deputy Fire Chief.

Lynchburg's Emergency Planning Committee and an emergency training company recently completed a Hazardous Material Commodity Flow Study. Their goal? To come up with a full list of hazardous materials that travel through Lynchburg. "We know these gazillion products are moving through our city. Now we know these gazillion plus are moving through our city," said Wormser.

Products such as, "Oxidizers and chlorides and other things that come through our area that could be leaking out of a rail car and nobody knows it, it could be leaking out of a truck and nobody knows it, it could get into an accident," explained Wormser.

Emergency responders say knowing what type of materials they might be dealing with will help them better prepare for emergencies, before they happen. "So that they can be better prepared and also more focused on their training as well," said Foster.