First Responders Participate In Railroad Hazmat Drill

 (CBS) – First responders participated Wednesday in a railway hazardous chemical emergency response drill in Downers Grove.

With hundreds of freight trains rolling through the Chicago area, there is always a possibility for an accident to happen, especially trains hauling hazardous materials.

Over 350 DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (OHSEM), Downers Grove first responders and other public safety officials took part in the drill along the BNSF line, WBBM’s Bernie Tafoya reports.

WBBM’s Bernie Tafoya

img 2533 First Responders Participate In Railroad Hazmat Drill
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“As the mayor of Downers Grove, like many other municipalities, we get asked by our constituents every single day, what if?” said Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully.

More than 104,000 train cars carrying crude oil came through DuPage County last year. The drill prepared responders if a situation were to happen involving hazardous materials, with the exercise involving a car that hit and derailed a freight train hauling crude oil and other caustic materials.

“When something does happen, hopefully it never will, but if something happened, great,” said Pete Graven, who lives near where the drill took place. “They’ve had a run-through.”

Chicago is the single largest rail hub in the country. Everyday 500 freight trains with 37,500 cars and 700 passenger and commuter lines pass through Chicago.

Rail freight traffic is expected to double by 2025, said OHSEM in a statement.

Following the exercise and plan validation process, the plan will be provided to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to potentially be shared with municipalities across the state.

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