JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Following last month’s train derailment in East Palenstine, Ohio, local city and county emergency officials offered insight into training for hazardous rail emergencies on Friday.
Emergency officials for Washington County and Johnson City say they are prepared and train annually for such a situation.
“And understand that when we train, we actually train for a worst-case scenario, prepare for that and we hope for the best whatever that is,” said Johnson City Fire Chief David Bell.
They say they don’t know ahead of time if a train passing through the city is carrying hazardous cargo. A lot of planning goes into the process, but you can’t plan for everything.
“But we have general plans in place that give us a good starting point and a good foundation to start working from,” said Washington County Emergency Management Director Rusty Sells.
Steve Crouch is the owner of Biker Wear, which is located next to the railroad tracks. Even with how close his business is to the tracks, he’s not worried about the possibility of a derailment.
“To me, they’re not moving fast enough through town to even worry about something like that,” said Crouch.
Other than the occasional noise and car tops not being covered, he says it’s not much of an issue to them.
“The only thing I would truly worry about in this area, in the downtown area, is someone being stupid and running in front of [a train],” said Crouch.
But for people working next door at White Duck Taco Shop, it often crosses their minds.
“It’s always a concern especially with our tanks back here for the brew house and things like that containing CO2 and all the big gases,” said kitchen manager C. J. Shull. “If anything was to come through here, it could definitely cause a problem for this building and hopefully not for too much around it.”
You can sign up online to receive emergency alerts from Washington County 911.