Dayton — Ohio ranks third nationwide in the number of serious spills involving hazardous materials on roads, rail lines, waterways and in the air since 2005, the Dayton Daily News reported June 29.
The state’s 256 serious incidents involving hazardous material releases rank behind only California and Texas.
Those incidents in Ohio include one death from exposure to hazardous material and six deaths from the truck crashes involving the release of hazardous materials.
They’ve also added up to $38 million in damages and the evacuation of 3,700 people, according to the newspaper, which reviewed safety statistics from U.S. Department of Transportation.
Overall, Ohio had nearly 13,000 hazardous materials incidents during the past 10 years.
“It’s actually shocking what comes through the county every day on trains,” said Jeff Galloway, director of the Butler County Emergency Management Agency. “We have every chemical: hydrogen fluoride or chlorine or propane or methane, you name it.”
Trucks account for four out of five of the serious hazardous materials incidents, the majority of dollar damages and almost all of the deaths, but rail incidents were costlier on average and caused more injuries, the newspaper said.
It also found that hazardous material leaks and derailments involving crude oil trains have increased dramatically — from just one in 2005 to 47 last year.
Serious rail accidents in recent year have led to demands for stricter regulations and more notification for communities and emergency responders about what chemicals are moving through their cities.
The rail industry and federal transportation department did agree earlier this year to new safety measures for crude oil shipments, including lowering speeds to 40 miles per hour in urban areas on trains with 20 or more crude oil cars, better braking systems and more safety technology and inspections.
CSX Transportation Inc. and Norfolk Southern Corp. — two of the biggest railroad companies — said they are always concerned about safety and said that security and competitive issues were behind a request asking state emergency response offices to keep confidential crude oil routing notifications. The federal government agreed to the request under a May emergency order.
“More than 99.998 percent of the hazardous materials shipped across our 22-state network arrive at their final destination without a release caused by an accident, but we are constantly striving toward a goal of zero incidents,” said Susan Terpay, a spokeswoman for Norfolk Southern.
Rail and trucking companies are not required to notify local emergency planners when they are moving hazardous materials except when transporting some radioactive materials, such as spent nuclear fuel.
Beginning this month, those companies must report to emergency planners if they are hauling a million gallons or more of crude oil from the shale formations in North Dakota.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, citing security concerns, ruled that Ohio’s public records laws do not require release in advance or after the fact of information to the public related to the North Dakota crude oil shipments.
Information from: Dayton Daily News, http://www.daytondailynews.com