The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

May 8, 2014

Knowledge crucial in emergency response

Hazmat haulers will be surveyed

MERCER COUNTY — By first learning what kind of hazardous materials are being transported through Mercer County, emergency responders will be better prepared to handle accidents and fires, according to Frank Jannetti, the county’s emergency management coordinator.

The county has been “lucky” there haven’t been any accidents involving the trucks carrying materials related to the ever-expanding oil and gas drilling, Jannetti said, as those trucks travel U.S. routes 62 and 19 and interstates 80 and 79.

“I’m told that most of what is being transported is nonhazardous, but when there’s an accident and those things catch fire, it becomes hazardous. You need to have a healthy respect for that stuff,” he said.

The only local drilling-related accident he said he is aware of was a gas-well fire in Jefferson Township about two weeks ago.

He said he’s concerned with the contents of the tractor-trailers traversing the county, he said, because that information is vital to first responders.

“It could be anything, like one that was carrying nail polish and plastics, which by itself isn’t hazardous, but once it catches on fire, it is,” Jannetti said.

He said the county has been awarded a $5,200 federal grant from the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness program to set up five stations to check the contents of trucks traveling north and south on Interstate 79 and east and west on Interstate 80, as well as along routes 19 and 62.

There is no cost to the county, he said. Mercer County has not done a similar study before, he added.

“A lot of other county agencies have staff to go out and do this sort of thing, but we don’t. I

n the past, we’ve shared the information gathered by Lawrence and Crawford counties. This time, we’ll likely be sharing the information with them,” he said.

Trucks carrying hazardous materials are designated by a placard, and shipping papers, information about the materials on board, are available.

For transportation of radiological hazardous waste, companies are required to pre-notify the county’s emergency management coordinator about the trip.

Hazardous materials transported by railway are not covered in the study, Jannetti said.

The study, which will be done by JH Consulting of West Virginia, must be finished by the end of September, he said.

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