The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced March 20 more than $25 million available in grant funding through its pipeline and hazardous materials (hazmat) safety programs for projects that will “train first responders, strengthen safety programs, improve safety, reduce environmental impacts, and educate the public on local safety initiatives.”
Projects, PHMSA says, include those that “provide support to state inspectors for hazardous materials shipments and pipelines inspections, important safety training and educational programs for emergency response, and advance innovative safety technologies.”
According to PHMSA, this funding follows the Norfolk Southern (NS) derailment in East Palestine on February 3. Previously, responders nationwide received training because of the Assistance for Local Emergency Response Training (ALERT) grant program, including more than 2,500 responders in 137 different locations in Ohio. Several of those trained emergency responders, PHMSA says, were on the ground during the recent derailment. In addition to this existing funding, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called on Congress to increase funding to expand hazmat training for first responders. Additional funding for first responders is part of the Bipartisan Railway Safety Act of 2023.
The funding will go towards the following grants:
- Pipeline Emergency Response Grants.
- Competitive Academic Agreement Program Grants.
- Technical Assistance Grants.
- State Damage Prevention Grants.
- One-Call Grants.
- Hazmat Instructor Training Grants.
- Hazmat State Inspection Grants.
- Assistance for Local Emergency Response Training Grants.
- Hazmat Emergency Preparedness Tribal Grants.
- Supplemental Public Sector Training Grants.
- Community Safety Grants.
“We need to make sure our first responders are ready to respond to emergencies involving pipelines and hazardous materials,” said Secretary Buttigieg. “These grants will train firefighters and other first responders and help ensure that communities have the resources they need to keep their residents safe.”
The Notices of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) provide more details on eligibility and how each grant improves and strengthens pipeline and hazmat safety. PHMSA says it will work to maximize grant awards based on the applications received. Each official NOFO is available here. Applicants can also contact the appropriate agency representative identified in the respective notice of funding opportunity with further questions.
According to the Administration, since 2001, PHMSA has awarded more than $206 million in grants to eligible recipients for projects, research, and development activities that work to enhance the safety of America’s energy pipeline network and hazmat transportation. For Fiscal Year 2024, PHMSA requested a $21.5 million increase for its State Pipeline Safety Grants to reimburse states for up to 80% of their inspection costs, an $18.5 million increase in funding for its emergency preparedness grants that train emergency responders and volunteers, and a $3 million increase in Community Safety Grant funding to better prepare underserved communities for the transportation of hazmat and crude oil through communities. Details about prior grant awards and related projects can be found here.