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Macdona Derailment Issues and Lessons Learned. Scott Harris, Ph.D. Federal On-Scene Coordinator USEPA-R6. What Happened?. June 28, 2004 Westbound Union Pacific Eastbound Burlington Northern Pulling onto siding to let UP pass Not yet clear of main line UP cuts through BNSF and derails

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macdona derailment issues and lessons learned

Macdona DerailmentIssues and Lessons Learned

Scott Harris, Ph.D.

Federal On-Scene Coordinator


what happened
What Happened?
  • June 28, 2004
    • Westbound Union Pacific
    • Eastbound Burlington Northern
      • Pulling onto siding to let UP pass
        • Not yet clear of main line
    • UP cuts through BNSF and derails
      • Blocks road
        • Flooded Medina River to rear
      • Traps at least five families
initial 911 and response
Initial 911 and Response
  • 911 misunderstands
    • Concludes medical call related to smoke
    • VFD drives into chlorine cloud
      • Firefighter down
      • Rescue and withdraw
  • Lesson
    • 911 operators must have hazmat training
order to evacuate
Order to Evacuate
  • Local IC orders ENS and evacuation
    • Model predicts 57,000 residents
    • No ENS sent
    • No notification of failure to local IC
  • Lesson
    • Must not disregard without consultation
911 and up contact
911 and UP Contact
  • 911 contacts UP
    • “Train-on-train”
    • Chlorine
    • 911 advises of response and situation
  • Lesson
    • 911 took initiative
    • May have prevented casualties
nrc notification
NRC Notification
  • UP notification to NRC
    • 45 minutes after 911 / UP call
    • Two trains collided, no cars derailed
    • Unknown hazmat, impacts or actions
  • Lessons
    • NRC Report lacks information known to UP
    • Minimized impact and urgency
    • Cost response time while researching
uc ics
  • Major conflict between locals
  • OSCs arrived, implemented UC/ICS
  • UP resisted authority
    • Refused to participate or cooperate
    • Intended to act against direction of UC/OSC
    • “Worst-case scenario”
      • Threat of U.S. Marshall and Federalizing
uc ics1
  • Lessons
    • Immediate UC/ICS clearly aided response
    • UP resistance created unnecessary drama
    • OSCs must be familiar with authorities
      • Prepared to follow through
    • RPs and contractors must function in ICS
      • NIMS / NRP
      • Understand NCP authorities
federal agency coordination
Federal Agency Coordination
  • Limited
    • NTSB process seemed outside ER / EPA
      • NTSB off-site operations / FRA?
      • Difficult logistics
      • Declined UC role
      • Declined ER Review participation
      • Excluded EPA from ER Investigation
  • Lessons
    • Evaluate whether relationship value-added
    • Consider future joint operations
coordination with others
Coordination With Others
  • Excellent
    • State and local
    • Co-location and security
      • Scalable facilities
      • Technical, operational areas segregated
  • Lessons
    • TCEQ Strike Team support invaluable
      • Logistics, regulatory, UC
rrt involvement
RRT Involvement
  • No specific request for RRT
  • Twice-daily briefings with HQ and RRC
  • Lessons
    • Excellent support from RRC and HQ
    • Process in place to convene as needed
ntsb investigation
NTSB Investigation
  • Report not yet published
    • Initial site visit on Day 5
    • EPA participation
    • Site completely altered
    • EPA provided digital photos from ASPECT
  • Lessons
    • Material evidence lost by delay
    • Value of ASPECT photos and video
nrc tape
NRC Tape
  • Audio of NRC notification lost
    • Tapes recycled after ~60 days
      • Not known to OSC
    • System down from October-February
  • Lessons
    • Request ASAP for event record
    • Digital upgrades
    • Receive / retain record of all notifications
follow up with up
Follow-up with UP
  • ER Review
  • March exercise in San Antonio
    • Focus on NIMS / ICS
  • Lessons
    • Excellent coverage of lessons learned
    • Improved capabilities and interoperability

norfolk southern derailment graniteville south carolina

Norfolk Southern DerailmentGraniteville, South Carolina

Kevin S. Misenheimer

Federal On-Scene Coordinator

incident description
Incident Description
  • At approximately 0300 on January 6, 2005 a Norfolk Southern Train collided with a parked train in the town of Graniteville, SC
  • Four hazardous materials tank cars derailed (three chlorine, one sodium hydroxide)
  • One chlorine car was breached, releasing approximately 40 tons of chlorine vapor and liquid
  • Nine fatalities and hundreds of victims reporting respiratory affects
  • 1 mile radius evacuation (5,400 people) and 2 mile radius shelter–in–place
epa activities
EPA Activities
  • Oversight of NS response actions (hazmat cars)
  • Maintenance of comprehensive air monitoring network
  • ICS / Unified Command
  • Support local hazmat entries for search and recovery
  • Home re-entry sampling
  • Business and infrastructure re-entry sampling / support
  • Veterinary / Animal support
regional response team
Regional Response Team
  • No formal activation of Region 4 RRT
  • Coordination with RRT members through the Regional Response Center
  • RRT members (SCDHEC, SCEMD, DOT-NTSB, DOT-FRA) had representatives in the Unified Command
lessons learned
Lessons Learned
  • Locals need NRP / NIMS ICS coaching
  • PRP resisted use of ICS / UC / data sharing; Not familiar; Saw no value
  • NTSB trying to conduct accident investigation in a hotzone without adequate training or equipment; Close coordination with FOSC a necessity
  • Order resources immediately to account for mobe time for ERT, USCG-NSF, etc
lessons learned1
Lessons Learned
  • Standardize data collection immediately
  • Unified Command works, but is one integrated ICS possible?
  • Unified Command must share common workspace (resist tendency for individual agencies to hunker down in their own mobile command posts);
  • What if this had been terrorism…?