Partnerships central to East Texas rail spill plan
Longview — A railroad town sitting atop an oilfield and surrounded by busy chemical manufacturers has more reason than other communities to fear major train derailments, but area officials have known that for years and say they are as prepared as possible.
“We are fortunate,” said Longview Fire Marshal Johnny Zackary. “We have an annual tank car safety course right here in Longview, Texas, that has seen students from as far away as New York, New York, and other states across America. … The students come from not only fire departments but other companies that deal with rail service.”
National news reports focusing on the hazards of petroleum product spills — the centerpiece being July’s derailment of a train carrying crude oil near Quebec, Canada that killed 47 people — reveal only half the challenge faced by responders across Northeast Texas. Zackary said that’s why Longview and other area fire departments have partnerships with Eastman Chemical Co.-Texas Operations, Trinity Rail, Union Pacific and other players to leap into coordinated action if tank cars carrying a public threat go off the tracks.
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