Opinion

Hazmat units needed across West Virginia

An editorial from The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — All one has to do is travel our highways to know that on a daily basis a huge amount of chemicals and other hazardous materials travel through our area.

With increased Marcellus shale drilling, that will continue.

And that’s also true of the rail system, where train cars of materials used for various industrial purposes are criss-crossing the state.

Add in the threat of domestic or foreign terrorists exposing areas to anthrax or ricin, and it’s understandable why in 2003 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security awarded $23 million to help the state establish regional hazmat response teams.

What’s not understandable is why these teams have been left to function pretty much on their own.

After 9/11 and the anthrax attacks, the federal government made protecting the country more of an emphasis.

And while the threat remains, no one can question the potential threat of industrial agents or waste byproducts creating a potentially hazardous situation.

It wasn’t too long ago that a tractortrailer wreck on U.S. 50 near Salem killed several people and left a chemical-scarred area that had to be remediated.

Despite these concerns, The Exponent Telegram has learned that several of the hazmat response teams set up about 10 years ago have folded or are significantly reduced…

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