By Jim Melwert
ROYERSFORD, Pa. (CBS) – More than one-million gallons of crude oil pass through Pennsylvania each week, much of it on trains that run along the Schuylkill River between Chester and Montgomery counties. Training this week has emergency crews doing a “what-if” for potential disasters along those rail lines.
Emergency responders trained on the Schuylkill River, deploying the booms that would be used to collect oil from a spill if a train were to derail north of Royersford.
“Preparation is paramount and being prepared for any type of disaster, especially a Bakken crude train derailment that would ultimately result in a spill, is something we all need to be vigilant about and ready for,” says Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro.
Mike Towle with the US EPA says the exercise has emergency crews deploying orange floating booms from each side of the river:
“Practicing the movement of the oil from one side of the river to the other, to our side here, to contain it, collect it ultimately remove it and dispose of it.”
Shapiro says it’s a collaborative effort between federal, state, county and local agencies. These drills take place near the Upper Schuylkill Valley Park:
“This is an area when we’ve had spills upriver the material has ended up here and has to be taken out of the river here. So this is a natural place for us to be doing this exercise.”
Montgomery County commissioner Bruce Castor says the strong emergency response to last week’s Amtrak derailment was the result of training and preparation:
“We want to make sure that should something here in Montgomery County, we have also the same preparation, training, and experience. Obviously we’ll never be able to duplicate what will happen, but we’ll be able to get close.”