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Rail Safety Plan: Responding Quickly to Protect Waterways

Erie County, PA
Program Year: 2019

Erie County, Pennsylvania, is known for its 50 miles of Lake Erie shoreline. Running parallel to that lush shoreline, however, are two railroad lines that frequently transport crude oil and other hazardous materials through the heart of the Lake Erie watershed. Prompted by prominent train derailments in 2015, the Erie County Department of Public Safety worked to create a Rail Safety Plan, in order to mitigate potential damage to the county’s waterways. The result of the effort was a comprehensive plan that establishes a protocol to help prevent contamination from seeping into Lake Erie or its tributaries. As a result of this plan, an innovative strategy emerged in order to ensure a faster response in the event of a spill: Mobile response units – essentially, trailers outfitted with containment materials – were deployed near the rail lines along the lake shore, empowering municipalities and other agencies to use the equipment and respond immediately.

Ms. Kristin Bowers
Public Information Officer