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Stop Ignoring Our First Responders!

(L to R) NHP Fire Chief John Divello, Deputy Mayor Bob Lofaro, State Assemblymen and bill sponsors, Tom Alfano and Tom McKevitt, Trustee Larry Montreuil, Asst Chief Jim Robinson, Trustee Rich Coppola, Mayor Dan Petruccio, NC Legislator Rich Nicolello, State Senator and bill sponsor Kemp Hannon.  In front, Trustee Donald Barbieri

Alfano, Hannon, Walker and McKevitt to Railroad Companies-

Stop Ignoring Our First Responders!

Assemblyman Tom Alfano and Senator Kemp Hannon announced today legislation S6727 that would mandate that freight train companies carrying hazardous wastes and radioactive materials would have to alert local villages and first responders to the shipments.  To date, local villages, fire departments, schools and public facilities are not given the information even though such information is given to county entities.  Senator Kemp Hannon is sponsoring the bill in the New York State Senate.

The bill was developed, according to Alfano, in response to train shipments of radioactive materials being shipped through communities without information being provided to localities- more importantly, first responders.  Brookhaven National Labs has already shipped thousands of cubic yards of radioactive soils and is poised to begin new shipments. Queens County Borough stopped shipments of the materials years ago until they were briefed and given assurances to the safety precautions and disclosure of information. 

 “It’s shocking. Villages and communities are being put in harms way. When our first responders or the MTA don’t know that hazardous waste and radioactive materials are being shipped right through our backyards, they can’t take the precautions they need to if an accident occurs.  Our firefighters and first responders are being put at risk for no reason. This bill we’re announcing today will arm them with the information they need to make our communities safe,” said Assemblyman Tom Alfano.

Assemblyman Tom McKevitt noted, “Villages throughout my district are on the front lines in this battle.  We need to give our communities the information they need to protect its citizens.”

Senator Kemp Hannon said, “the local villages and fire departments have been kept in the dark as to the transportation of these materials, which can include radioactive soil from Brookhaven, liquid or gas nitrogen, and construction and factory wastes. In the event of an emergency, first responders would not know how to appropriately cope with the situation.  This legislation requires all railroads transporting hazardous materials through Nassau and Suffolk Counties to give advance notice to the MTA, local village governments and first responders.”

Assemblyman Rob Walker said, “This is all about notification and safety.  The more we know, the better off the community it is in making sure we’re safe.”

Assemblyman Alfano and Senator Hannon were joined at the press conference by Assemblymembers Rob Walker, Tom McKevitt and New Hyde Park Village Board, Mayor Dan Petruccio, Deputy Mayor Robert Lofaro, Trustees Lawrence Montreuil, Richard Coppola and Donald Barbieri.  Also present were Nassau County Legislator Rich Nicolello, Mayors Angel Soto from South Floral Park, Jack Martins and Deputy Mayor Christina Lynch from Mineola, Mayor Phil Guanieri  and Trustee Tom Tweety from Floral Park,   The New Hyde Park and Stewart Manor Fire Departments, Board of Education officials from our local school districts, PTA members of the Stewart Manor Elementary school as well as many residents and parents were in attendance.

The Alfano-Hannon legislation would mandate that freight train companies must alert local governments and first responders to the shipments of hazardous materials like radioactive soils. 

“God forbid there is an accident near a school. Our firefighters would report to the scene not knowing that what is leaking or spilling could not only be hazardous but radioactive.  These railroad lines cut through our communities. It’s totally unacceptable that they don’t know and can’t take the precautions they need to be safe. This legislation will ensure our first responders will know what needs to be done and they will be prepared,” said Assemblyman Alfano.

The Alfano-Hannon legislation is co-sponsored by Assemblyman Rob Walker, Assemblyman Tom McKevitt and Assemblyman Bob Barra.

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Last modified: February 24, 2008