train derailment

Photo: Tom Scott, South Jersey Times/Landov

Bill to improve rail hazmat response training clears House

December 1, 2016

Washington – A bill intended to improve training for workers who engage in emergency response to rail incidents involving hazardous materials was approved by the House on Nov. 29.

The RESPONSE Act of 2016 (S. 546) modifies the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to create a temporary subcommittee under FEMA’s National Advisory Council. According to a press release from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the act will improve availability of training to emergency responders, update training content about incidents involving hazardous materials on railroads and develop strategies for using relevant data.

The bill states that members of the subcommittee will come from various government agencies – including FEMA, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration – as well as people outside of government, such as technical experts and providers of emergency responder training.

“Rail safety is critical to the transport of goods and services through our country,” Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), chairman of the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee, said in the release. “I believe the RESPONSE Act will succeed in improving the safety of our nation’s rail network.”

The committee approved the legislation with an amendment in September. The bill will return to the Senate for additional consideration.