The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded $20.1 million in hazardous materials transportation and training grants to states throughout the country.
The Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness awards will be given to improve the response to hazardous material incidents.
Money for the grants, which are issued from the department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, comes from user fees paid by hazardous materials carriers.
“Hazardous materials are transported throughout our nation every day, and most shipments arrive without incident,” DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “But we have to be prepared for those rare instances when something goes wrong, and these grants do just that, by funding training and drills for our first responders so they can protect our families and communities.”
California, Texas and Illinois each received more than $1 million in funding, with California topping the list at $1.75 million. Alaska and Vermont were awarded the lowest amounts of funding at $95,274 and $94,842, respectively. All 50 states received awards, and DOT also gave out funding to American Samoa, Guam, North Mariana Island, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Awards for the territories were primarily between $62,000 and $64,000, but Puerto Rico received $166,393.
Six Native American tribes received funding, with the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona getting the most at $202,471.
While the grant money is awarded on an annual basis since 1993, the regulation of hazardous materials transportation has been in the news since early July, when a Montreal, Maine & Atlantic train carrying crude oil derailed in Canada, leading to the death of more than 45 people. In the aftermath, the U.S. and Canadian governments issued new rules and regulations regarding the transportation of hazardous materials. - Jon Ross