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Norfolk Southern to Notify Fire Department First as Part of Emergency Response Plan

Previously, the railroad company made other regulatory calls in the event of a potentially hazardous situation before calling local emergency first responders.

Norfolk Southern Railroad now plans to notify the Alexandria Fire Department immediately as part of its emergency response plan rather than make other regulatory calls first.

A Norfolk Southern representative member of the Local Emergency Planning Committee announced the change Tuesday night during a public meeting held at Alexandria Police Department headquarters.

Alexandria Fire Department Battalion Chief Michael Cross also attended the meeting and confirmed for Patch that his office had been notified of the change.

Cross said the Fire Department under the new protocol would immediately examine any potentially dangerous situation such as a spill and determine if additional resources would be needed.

The railroad has a transloading facility near Van Dorn Metro station and its tracks run through Alexandria, among many other places.

The local Fire Department and the railroad firm had been at loggerheads a few months ago when an ethanol spill occurred at the transloading facility. The City of Alexandria issued a statement at that time saying that AFD was not notified in a timely manner.

According to that September statement, railroad officials notified the National Response Center, which notified Virginia’s Department of Emergency Management, which then notified the Alexandria Fire Department of the spill. Norfolk Southern did not notify the fire department directly.

In September 2009, NSR failed to notify the city of an ethanol spill at the same facility.

Editor's Note: Old Town Alexandria Patch Editor Sharon McLoone is a media representative member of the Local Emergency Planning Committee.

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