CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) — Members of the West Virginia National Guard’s 35th Civil Support Team were deployed on the evening of Feb. 6 to respond to the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, according to a release.
The team was contacted at 12 p.m. on Monday by the Ohio National Guard to assist with the 150-car derailment. 10 of the cars were labeled as “hazmat cars,” 5 of which were identified as containing the chemical vinyl chloride.
Vinyl chloride is a suspected volatile carcinogen used to create polyvinyl chloride, better known as PVC.
The 35th was mobilized within the hour to deploy seven personnel with equipment to assist with the disaster, one of which being a nuclear science officer meant to test the local water for contamination by chemicals, including the one mentioned above.
Other members sent included a plume model specialist who assisted in forecasting potential airborne hazardous materials, three survey specialists who assisted with collecting air and water samples, and two members of the unit leadership team to assist with emergency management officials and on-scene counterparts.
“Our personnel are currently on the ground assisting a combined local, state, and federal response to this dangerous and life-threatening incident,” stated Lt. Col. Jerry Floyd, 35th CST commander. “Our team members are highly trained for these exact type situations, and we are proud to provide assistance to our neighbors in Ohio. The Ohio 52nd CST was the very first team on the ground in 2016 to assist West Virginia during the 2014 Elk River MCHM spill. It’s our honor to return the favor and provide support for and with them.”
The 35th is on-call 24/7 for rapid deployments in these situations. The members that make up the team receive special training and equipment to help with disaster relief efforts such as this one.
“The motto of the National Guard is, ‘Always Ready, Always There’, and this incident is a prime example of the realization of that motto,” stated WVNG Adjutant General Maj. Gen. William “Bill” Crane. “The rapid deployment of critical assets during this time-sensitive endeavor will undoubtedly help to stabilize a potentially life-threatening situation and help on-scene first responders and personnel save lives, property, and critical infrastructure from further damage and threat.”
The 35th regularly provides support on both a national and local scale and has a proud history of successful missions. The team regularly assists with National Special Security Events such as the yearly State of the Union address, as well as more local events such as WVU football games.