Audit Report: PHMSA's Inadequate Management and Oversight of Hazardous Materials, Emergency Preparedness Grants Limited the Program's Effectiveness [open pdf - 271KB]
"From 2001 through 2010, nearly 165,000 hazardous materials incidents1 occurred in the United States, resulting in more than 2,800 injuries, including several fatal injuries, and about $640 million in damages. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) administers the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) Grant Program as a part of its national strategy for reducing death and injuries from hazardous materials incidents. PHMSA estimates that almost 2.3 million emergency responders have been provided training with HMEP grant funds. The importance of adequately trained responders is highlighted when deficiencies in emergency response contribute to an endangerment of public safety. For example, in June 2004, a rail tank car carrying chlorine was punctured during a freight train collision in Macdona, TX, resulting in 3 fatalities and 30 injuries. As part of its investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) noted that the emergency response was untimely and ineffective because the responding agencies failed to consider alternative response and rescue tactics to access threatened residences. As a result, the responding agencies increased their employee training to prevent similar situations in the future. […] Accordingly, our objectives were to evaluate the effectiveness of PHMSA's (1) policies, processes, and resources to execute the program; (2) outreach and coordination with States, local governments, and tribal organizations to enhance their approach to emergency planning and training; and (3) program oversight to ensure Federal funds are used for eligible activities in accordance with Federal law, regulations, and submitted grant applications."
Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, Report No. AV-2012-040
United States. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General: http://www.oig.dot.gov/