ALBANY, Ore. — HazMat crews don’t get a lot of real-life training opportunities, so they have to create them, which is what happened in Albany Wednesday.
Even though everyone there knew it was a smoke machine creating the cloud leaking out of the train car, the trainees had to treat it like an actual chlorine spill.
“We’ve probably spent two or three hundred hours of planning time on this,” said Sue Otjen of the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
The Mid-Valley Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and numerous other agencies spent two years planning a fictitious chlorine spill. But dealing with the fake fog will get crews ready, if the real and real dangerous stuff ever enters the area.
National Guard members and HazMat team five made up of Albany, Corvallis, and Lebanon Fire departments worked with a C-Kit to plug the leak. They succeeded, but organizers say this training is for the public just as much as it is for the crews.
“One of the things you always hear is those guys were out there for two hours and they were just standing around because people don’t understand the operations and what it takes. So I think it’s good for them to be aware of what it takes, what safety precautions are taken and what level of training these guys have when they’re out there doing this,” Otjen said.
LEPC facilitates about four trainings like this each year to make sure local crews are prepared as they can be for the real thing.
About 20 different agencies participated in the training, and now Linn and Benton Counties know if anything like this does ever happen, they’ll be prepared.