Tuesday, October 20, 2009

U.S. DOT makes $20.9 million available for first responders

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The U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding $20.9 million to states, territories and Native American tribes to improve the nation's response to transportation incidents involving hazardous materials. The grants will help train first responders to react to incidents involving hazardous materials and to meet the safety challenges posed by new chemicals and alternative energy products such as ethanol.

"This program strengthens local emergency response capabilities and serves a vital role in a comprehensive hazmat safety program," said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. "Although prevention is our first priority, preparing communities to respond effectively to incidents that do occur is essential to protecting the safety of all Americans."

The grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration are funded by user fees paid by shippers and carriers of certain hazardous materials.

Since 1993, more than 2.4 million emergency responders and others have received training assistance nationwide using Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness grants. Assistance was also given to approximately 1,700 local emergency planning committees each year in preparing and exercising hazardous materials emergency response plans, and in conducting commodity flow studies that identify transportation hazards. Effective in 2008, transportation legislation more than doubled the funding of the HMEP grants program.

All 50 states, one territory, and seven North American tribes received HMEP grant funding this year.

More information on the HMEP grants program can be found at: http://hazmat.dot.gov/training/state/hmep/hmep.htm .