This issue is of importance because many cities are often first on the scene at an accident in what may require a coordinated effort between local, regional and state emergency responders in a major event.
This week the League issued a letter
supporting the establishment of a hazardous materials fee in Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget to fund regional emergency hazardous materials response teams throughout California. A budget trailer bill has been drafted to establish this crucial funding stream that is consistent with the state’s larger goal of developing a more robust emergency response capability.
The proposed fee would fund a variety of expenses related to the response to incidents involving hazardous materials, including:
- Local agencies’ acquisition of specialized materials and equipment;
- Enhanced training and exercises; and
- Covering costs associated with backfilling staff that is engaged in training.
This funding source is necessary in light of the dramatic increase in the transport of crude oil-by-rail into California in the past two years, in addition to the considerable routine transport by rail of other hazardous materials such as ethanol. The July 2014 report of the Interagency Rail Safety Working Group
highlighted the fact that there are currently significant deficiencies in local emergency preparedness and response capabilities in the context of rail accidents. Establishing a hazardous materials fee for regional response teams will be an important step in addressing those deficiencies.
In the same letter, the League also announced its support for a separate one-time $10 million allocation to cover similar first responder expenditures.