The local committee tasked with planning for emergencies is holding a drill in March tied to a high-profile issue for regions with oil trains running through — how to run an emergency evacuation.
At its monthly meeting Tuesday, the Hill County Local Emergency Planning Committee set a tabletop exercise for its March meeting to look at evacuating if a derailment occurred on the Hi-Line. The group set its plans for the exercise to be held in the Hill County Detention Center where its monthly meeting normally is held
The group agreed to run a simulation of a train derailing just west of Gildford.
Evacuations have had a high profile across the nation in the past year, with three trains pulling cars filled with crude oil from the Bakken derailing and causing massive fires, the most recent just outside of Casselton, N.D., Dec. 30.
A derailment in July in Lac Megantic, Quebec, near Maine’s U.S.-Canadian border, killed 47 people and caused massive destruction in the town.
Parenteau said the simulation would list a cargo on the fictitious train requiring an evacuation — it could be a hazardous chemical, Bakken crude or some other substance.
The exact nature of the situation will not be revealed until the exercise that will run from 10 a.m. to noon March 11.
The exercise will involve representatives of city and county government from Hill County and other organizations that would be involved in an evacuation. It will test how they follow the procedures established by the LEPC, and the effectiveness of the procedures themselves.