Is Lansdale Prepared to Handle a Toxic Spill?  

tanker cars
Image via iStock.

The Feb. 21 chemical disaster in East Palestine, Ohio, has alarmed environmentalists nationwide. Local government officials across the U.S. are considering their preparedness for public-safety threats of this kind. Officials from Lansdale — site of a convergence of industrial and commuter rail systems — are confident that the chances of a catastrophe akin to Ohio’s are rather low.

The Pottstown Mercury‘s Dan Sokil and Rachel Ravina provided detail.

Former Lansdale councilman and train enthusiast Bill Henning said onsite dangers are mitigated by the contents of the tank and covered hopper cars traveling through the borough: Most are empty. Also, slow speed restrictions are in place to prevent cars from rolling over if they happen to jump a track.

“I’m not overly concerned, because I know that we have a robust response system in place to deal with it,” said Norristown Fire Chief and Emergency Management Coordinator Tom O’Donnell.

O’Donnell also said that the township has the resources to handle a disaster better than a more rural area like East Palestine. There’s also plans in place for hazardous material sites.

O’Donnell explained that environmental emergency strategies include:

  • Evacuating the area’s unhoused population
  • Establishing shelters
  • Leveraging the communication infrastructure to alert residents

Read more about Lansdale’s rail-disaster preparedness plans in The Pottstown Mercury.

SEPTA‘s Lansdale station is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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