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Freight Rail

Chemical Release Emergency Response and Preparedness Strategy Session

TSA is working to reduce the risk of injuries and deaths from an attack on a chemical rail tank car or pipeline by leveraging other government and industry groups who have major chemical release emergency response and preparedness responsibilities and expertise. To that end, the Freight Rail Security Division, in partnership with the DHS' Science & Technology Chemical Security Analysis Center hosted a multi-agency Chemical Release Emergency Response and Preparedness Strategy Session on December 7, 2011, at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. The seven hour workshop provided an opportunity for stakeholders to connect, discuss, and strategize on ways to improve local emergency response and preparedness for hazardous chemical releases. Key objectives included cultivating a network and linking stakeholders through organizational awareness and information exchange. Time was also spent discussing special topics and gaps in emergency response and preparedness, and identifying the organizations responsible for addressing these issues.

Over 100 representatives from 18 government organizations, 11 emergency response and planning agencies, 7 trade associations, 6 railroads, 5 national laboratories and academic institutions, and 3 chemical producers participated in this landmark meeting.

Freight Rail Security Program (FRSGP) Fiscal Year 2011

On August 24, 2011, the Grant Programs Directorate (GPD) and National Preparedness Directorate (NPD) within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced the final fiscal year 2011 grant allocations, including those for the FRSGP. For FY2011, the FRSGP provided $7,745,544 in funding to freight railroad carriers and owners and operators of railroad cars for programs related to the protection of critical surface transportation infrastructure from acts of terrorism and to increase the resilience of transit infrastructure.

New Orleans Freight Rail I-STEP

The TSNM Freight Rail Division conducted a scenario driven tabletop exercise on June 8 and 9, 2011, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Participants in this security exercise included all Class 1 freight railroads that operate in North America, Amtrak, the Association of American Railroads, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New Orleans Harbor Police, the U. S. Coast Guard, the National Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Federal Railroad Administration, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, TSA’s New Orleans Field Office, TSA’s Office of Intelligence, and TSA’s Transportation Security Operations Center. This exercise utilized informational injects to simulate events, information, and intelligence that resulted in ascending levels of security concerns, culminating in an imminent attack on transportation assets in the New Orleans High Threat Urban Area. The focus of the exercise was to capture the actual information flow that would take place if a security threat matured to the point of imminent attack. The objectives of this discussion based tabletop exercise were:

  • Discuss/develop procedures for the exchange of information with federal, regional, state, and local agencies and the railroad industry.  Identify all federal, state, regional, local and railroad industry stakeholders for inclusion in the information sharing framework.
  • Discuss the ability to establish communications within/among the owner operator organizations.  Discuss procedures for information sharing with adjacent transportation industry members.
  • Discuss/develop mechanisms to enhance relationships, facilitate information sharing, and share security and emergency preparedness plans and procedures.
  • Discuss the ability to send and receive information regarding suspicious activity, threats, and breaches, involving the public and the transportation industry.
  • Discuss notification process for relaying security and threat information as well as changes in security levels (e.g., MARSEC, NTAS, etc.) to or from federal, state, and local government, intermodal transportation industry and public.
  • Clarify the intelligence and information flow process and protocols among the federal government (e.g., DHS, TSA, FBI), state/local government, industry and Fusion Centers.   Validate the TSA Freight Rail Information and Intelligence Flow diagrams.

This exercise was conducted utilizing the Intermodal Security Training and Exercise Program.

Toxic Inhalation Hazard Materials Emergency Response and Preparedness Round Table

Photo of TIH Release Emergency Response Roundtable – Chicago 2010
TIH Release Emergency Response Roundtable – Chicago 2010

On November 16, 2010, the TSNM Freight Rail Division, in partnership with the City of Chicago Fire Department and the Illinois Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS-IL), sponsored through the I-STEP Program an Emergency Response and Preparedness Roundtable at the MABAS headquarters in Wheeling, IL.  The one-day discussion-based event focused on examining the proper preparations and response required to save lives and reduce casualties in the event of a catastrophic release of a TIH material such as chlorine and anhydrous ammonia from a rail tank car.

Over 160 people attended the Roundtable including Chicago area first responders, Federal and local government, and representatives of the railroad and chemical industry.  The event was part of TSA's effort to reduce the security risk associated with the freight rail transportation of TIH materials by reducing the impact of a large chemical release.  Panel discussions focused on the response to a 90-ton release of TIH material from a rail tank car and also addressed:

  1. First Responder Understanding of the TIH Cloud Behavior and Impact;
  2. Community Outreach and Shelter in Place Training;
  3. Emergency Response Procedures for Catastrophic TIH Materials Releases;
  4. Emergency Response Equipment for Large TIH Materials Releases;
  5. Local Emergency Response Officials' Knowledge of the Locations and Movements of TIH Tank Cars; and,
  6. Coordination among Local Public Health Officials, Rail Carriers, Local Emergency Responders, and Local Hospital Emergency (contingency) Planners.

News and Events Archive 2009
News and Events Archive 2008

Photo of TIH Release Emergency Response Roundtable – Chicago 2010
Railroads and First Responders Working Together to Improve Emergency Response Preparedness
Left to Right: Mike Paras, Beltway Railway of Chicago; Tom Murta, CSX Transportation; Pat Brady, BNSF Railway; Chief Dan O’Connell, City of Chicago Fire Department; Chief Don Davids, Aurora Fire Department; Chief Tim Butters, Fairfax City Fire Department; Chief Sean Maloy, Bedford Park Fire Department

Latest revision: 05 June 2014