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PHMSA to provide $5.9 million for rail incident response training

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) yesterday announced three grants totaling $5.9 million to provide hazmat training for volunteer or remote emergency workers responding to rail incidents.

The Assistance for Local Emergency Response Training (ALERT) grants will go to three nonprofit organizations that will provide training for incidents involving shipments of crude oil, ethanol and other flammable liquids by rail, U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) officials said in a press release.

The awardees are the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio; the International Association of Fire Chiefs in Fairfax, Va.; and the Center for Rural Development in Somerset, Ky.

The grants represent one of more than a dozen actions that the USDOT has taken in recent months to ensure the safe transportation of flammable liquids by rail, said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

"Safety is our top priority and the ALERT grants will help first responders, especially volunteer firefighters in rural or remote parts of the country, prepare for and respond to incidents involving flammable liquids," Foxx said. "It's critical that first responders have the information and training they need to respond to these types of incidents."

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 enabled PHMSA to use money recovered from prior year Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) grants to fund the latest round of funding.

PHMSA grants are funded by annual user registration fees paid by shippers and carriers of certain hazardous materials in commerce.

During the 2013-14 funding period, HMEP grants paid for the training of more than 91,000 first responders in initial or refresher hazmat response efforts, as well as more than 1,300 new or revised hazmat emergency response plans, USDOT officials said.

"Nearly 25,000 additional firefighters, police and other first responders are expected to benefit from this one-year realignment of hazmat training grants," added PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/30/2015