Category Archives: Ammonia

VIDEO RECAP: Mass Casualty Drill in Roseville, CA

Repost from Rocklin & Roseville Today
[Editor:  Be aware that these exercises and the promo “news accounts” that follow them are not much more than rosy public relation spins on the reality of catastrophic spills, fires and explosions resulting from oil train derailments. We can hope the first responders learned something, but no one is telling them – or us – that in a real crude oil explosion and fire, the ONLY thing to be done is evacuate and let it burn. See previous announcement details here, additional coverage by the City of Roseville. and the event Goals and Objectives worksheet here.   – RS]

Video Recap: Roseville Mass Casualty Drill

Placer County / Thursday, May 19, 2016

ROSEVILLE, Calif. — First responders from 35 local agencies converged on Roseville to rescue the victims of a staged but horrific accident: a collision of a train carrying volatile crude oil and a public transit bus. But the evacuation and treatment of the injured was just the beginning.

Fire fighters, police and other emergency workers then had to contend with leaking oil from one derailed train car, an ammonia gas leak from another and a fire when the crude ignited. First word of the accident reached them at around 8:15 a.m. By 11:30 a.m., exercise players had evacuated 57 injured bus riders to area hospitals (several by helicopter), built a temporary dam to contain the oil spill, extinguished the fire and coordinated the (pretend) evacuation of 8,000 area residents. Thank goodness it was just a drill.

“If such a large disaster ever did happen here, we’d need everyone to be on the same page and working together as effectively as possible, because lives depend on it,” said John McEldowney, program manager for Placer County’s Office of Emergency Services. “We definitely learned some lessons today, but overall I couldn’t have been more impressed with the professionalism and skill of our first responders. If the worst happens, I’m confident we’ll be in the best of hands.”

The exercise took place at the Roseville Fire Department Training Center in Roseville, near the Union Pacific switchyards, with medical evacuations staged in the parking lot of Denio’s Market up the road.

Placer County’s Office of Emergency Services held the exercise to give first responders from various agencies the opportunity to practice working together and test how well they can come together in a crisis. It was also a great chance to test the county’s recently finalized oil-by-rail response guide, which was developed to aid our first responder fire and law enforcement community and specialized response teams in the unlikely event an oil train disaster were to occur here.

The Red Cross coordinated for the participation of nearly 60 volunteers, most of them serving as mock accident victims.

For the quickest warning and information in a real crisis, Placer residents are encouraged to sign up for the Placer Alert emergency notification system at

Rail Safety bill passes off California Senate Floor with bipartisan support

Press Release from California Senator Lois Wolk

Rail Safety bill passes off Senate Floor with bipartisan support

Bill requires minimum two–person train crews

5/11/2015 12:21 PM

SACRAMENTO—Legislation by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) to protect communities along rail lines by requiring trains and light engines carrying freight within California to be operated with an adequate crew size for public safety reasons secured passage from the Senate last Thursday on a bipartisan 23-11 vote.

“Today’s freight trains carry extremely dangerous materials, including Bakken crude oil, ethanol, anhydrous ammonia, liquefied petroleum gas, and acids that may pose significant health and safety risks to communities and our environment in the case of an accident,” said Wolk. “With more than 5,000 miles of railroad track that crisscrosses the state through wilderness and urban areas, the potential for derailment or other accidents containing these materials is an ever present danger.”

SB 730 prohibits a freight train or light engine in California from being operated unless it has a crew consisting of at least 2 individuals.   It also authorizes the California Public Utilities Commission to assess civil penalties, at its discretion, against anyone who willfully violates this prohibition.

The California Public Utilities Commission supports SB 730, stating that requiring two-person crews is a straightforward way of ensuring two qualified crew members continue to operate freight trains in California.  According to the Commission, of all the industries subject to their oversight — energy, water, telecommunications, and transportation –rail accidents result in the greatest number of fatalities each year.

“Senator Wolk’s legislation helps keep us at the forefront of rail safety, ” said Paul King, Deputy Director of the Office of Rail Safety for the California Public Utilities Commission. “Senator Wolk’s bill would ensure that freight trains continue to have the safety redundancy that a second person provides. Such redundancy is a fundamental safety principle that is evidenced in certain industries, such as using two pilots in an airplane cockpit, or requiring back-up cooling systems for nuclear reactors.”

SB 730 will be heard next in the Assembly sometime in June.


LATEST DERAILMENT: South Carolina Train Derails, Spills Ammonium Nitrate

Repost from NBC News (Photo: Augusta Chronicle)
[Editor: For day-by-day updates, see WRDW-TV Augusta GA.  – RS[

Evacuation lifted following 39-car train derailment in SC

From the air workers can be seen Saturday at site of derailed train cars near Trenton, S.C. | MIKE ADAMS/SPECIAL, Augusta Chronicle

An evacuation order has been lifted for all but four homes following a 39-car train derailment in rural South Carolina on Friday night, officials said.

Derrick Becker, public information officer for the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, said no one was injured following the crash, which happened at 8:30 p.m. Friday in Trenton, but precautionary evacuations were made after officials confirmed one of the Norfolk Southern tankers was carrying anhydrous ammonia and one was carrying ammonium nitrate, according to Becker.

In total, 15 cars derailed and ammonium nitrate has spilled, according to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division’s Twitter account. No harmful spills were detected by Aiken County Hazmat officials who responded to the scene, Becker said.

Aiken County Hazmat officials were assisting at Edgefield County scene.

The train derailed after hitting a tree that had fallen on the tracks, an eyewitness told WAGT. Officials could not immediately confirm the cause of derailment or how many cars the train had all together.