SPOKANE, Wash. – Washington state first responders will meet in Spokane Wednesday to discuss oil train disaster readiness.
“Our folks need to be prepared on how to deal with that. Not just mitigating the incident, but dealing with all of the other things that are going to come along with it like national news coverage and conservation groups, and all those cooperators are going to come in and be a part of that incident,” said Jack Cates, Chief of Spokane Fire District 9.
Last year, an oil train derailed and caught fire in Mosier, Oregon. Political leaders banded together to oppose oil-by-rail projects and worked toward a permanent oil train ban.
Spokane political leaders have also pitched ballot propositions, as well as held City Council debates on whether oil trains should come through Spokane at all.
Oil train disasters are a concern for citizens and first responders alike. While legislation continues to be debated, Cates said it is important that everyone be prepared for potential oil train disasters.
Cates said the best thing citizens can do in a time of disaster is to keep up-to-date with local media because that is the most efficient way for crews to get the latest information out to the community. Cates also encouraged that people avoid the incident site; Having lots of people around as spectators makes first responders’ jobs much more difficult.
At their meeting Wednesday, first responders will run through simulations to prepare for potential disasters.