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CRANDIC Railway to lead safety drills

Preparedness key to preventing damages and injuries

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - October 6, 2010 - The Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway Company (CRANDIC) is partnering with local safety enforcement agencies to perform hazardous chemical training exercises on Tuesday, Oct. 12 near Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids.

Safety personnel from the Cedar Rapids Fire Department and Linn County HAZMAT will respond to a live ethanol burn and a staged derailment involving alcohol cars. CRANDIC Chief Operating Officer Joe McGovern says water will be used in place of alcohol during the mock derailment. "These simulated emergencies give rail carriers and first responders the opportunity to work together to prepare for a derailment involving potentially hazardous substances," he explains.

Fortunately, adds McGovern, derailments involving hazardous materials are rare. According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), more than 1.5 million carloads of hazardous materials are transported by rail each year. Due to stringent safety rules and compliance, 99.996 percent of those hazmat shipments reach their destination without a release caused by a rail accident.

Representatives from the Iowa Department of Transportation Rail Office, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and TRANSCAER (Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response) will observe the exercises, which are closed to the public.

Railroads are one of the safest and most fuel-efficient means of transportation. Moving freight by rail instead of truck reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than two-thirds, says the AAR.