On Wednesday, August 31, 2016, the Village of Downers Grove, in cooperation with the BNSF and DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DuPage OHSEM), will be conducting a training exercise along the railroad tracks near Warren and Oakwood Avenues from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
The purpose of the exercise is to prepare for the possibility of a railway hazardous chemical emergency response. Accidents can occur for a variety of reasons and it's imperative that first responders, local agencies and railroad operators are ready to work together. DuPage OHSEM has developed a Hazard Specific Railroad Disaster Plan that will serve as the framework for this event.
The BNSF Line is an important commuter and commerce route. On average, 106 commuter trains and between 30 to 40 freight trains pass through Downers Grove each day. Rail is the safest mode of land transportation for freight in general, and is one of the safest ways to transport hazardous material. BNSF provides free railroad hazmat response training to local emergency responders in communities across the country. In 2015, BNSF trained more than 10,000 local emergency responders, which was a record.
Residents and businesses can expect the following to occur in the area before and during this event:
- Reminder notifications via orange door hangers and a telephone call from the Village
- Public safety vehicles from multiple jurisdictions parked on side streets
- To simulate a hazardous spill, non-toxic dye will be added to water that will be flushed from a hydrant. This colored water will appear on roadways and portions of St. Joseph's Creek.
- To ensure safety, Warren Avenue between Northcott and Linscott will be closed from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Temporary No Parking signs will be posted and access to and from the neighborhood will be available via Prairie Avenue.
The training exercise is partially funded by a Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness grant provided by IEMA as well as the participating agencies. Officials from other states and local agencies have been invited to practice and observe responses at this event.