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Hazardous local train cargo

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Specific steps to be taken under the agreement include: increased track inspections, which took effect on March 25; equipping, by April 1, enhanced braking systems on trains with 20 or more carloads of crude oil; the implementation of a Rail Corridor Risk Management System by July 1 to aid in the determination of the safest and most secure rail routes for trains with 20 or more cars of crude oil; restricting speeds to 40 mph in federally designated high-threat urban areas on trains that include at least one DOT-111 tank car. Speed restrictions include the Detroit area, Sterling Heights, Warren and a 10-mile buffer extending from the border of the combined area.

Additional steps to be taken by July 1 under the agreement include the use of increased safety technology regarding wheel bearing detectors along the track; increased emergency response training and tuition assistance; and emergency response capability planning.

Locally, information about the types of hazardous materials traveling through each community appears to vary. At the county level, Oakland Sheriff Bouchard said his office doesn't receive any advanced notification regarding the shipment of hazardous materials. None of the law enforcement officials contacted had any information about the shipment of hazardous materials in their communities, and fire officials had limited information. Essentially, it is up to each community to prepare for emergencies that could possibly occur from a train accident.

"They (CSX) have a self-certification program we do every two or three years," Roberts said of first responders in Wixom.

While local responders have the responsibility of preparing for train accidents, Roberts said CSX provides training, and ensures adequate resources in the event of an accident. The measures are key steps to working with the community, according to the AAR.

Under the voluntary agreement with the AAR, railroads will provide $5 million to develop a specialized crude by rail training and tuition assistance program for local first responders. One part of the curriculum will be designed to be provided to local emergency responders in the field, as well as comprehensive training designed to be conducted at the Transportation Technology Center facility in Pueblo, Colorado. The funding will provide program development as well as tuition assistance for an estimated 1,500 first responders in 2014. The training facility is one that has already been utilized by local responders, Roberts said.

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