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Michigan State Police teaches hazmat teams how to handle hazardous situations at mid-Michigan training center

They held a 4-day training on train derailments, road chemical spills in light of East Palestine toxic derailment
Posted at 1:46 PM, Jun 08, 2023

LANSING, Mich. — There are only a few hazardous materials, or hazmat, training centers in the country, and one of them is right here in mid-Michigan. I got an inside look at what that training entails, and why it's needed.

"I think that it's super important that everyone is trained on how to properly re-mediate these situations," said Wendy Galbreath, manager of the Hazardous Materials Unit.

Learning the ropes and preparing for a hazardous situations, these men, who work for a chemical transport company, are all taking part in a four-day training at the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Training Center. Their training focused on train derailment and road chemical spills.

It all starts in the classroom and eventually transitions to the outdoor training base that's filled with semi trucks and tankers. Things typically get “real” here, or it at least feels like it.

"It’s a scenario that they’re getting ready to do right now on a train derailment. They’re going to run it as if its an actual derailment. They’re going to get out there, identify what the chemical is and how to fix it," Galbreath said.

But this is just one of many groups the center helps out. On average, the center trains around 5,000 people a year.

"Primarily, the most students that we train here are the local hazmat teams, so there are over 30 hazmat teams in the state of Michigan, so that’s the majority of our students that come through here, but we do have private companies that come through and will like the training," Galbreath said.

Galbreath says the more groups her team can train, the better, especially after some of the recent, dangerous situations that have made national headlines.

"What they’re dealing with in Palestine, Ohio, that’s on the forefront of everyone’s mind, and all eyes are on that. No one wants that to happen in their area, so of course, they’re going to want all the training to reassure that doesn’t happen, and if it does, they have all the tools they need to correct it," she said.

The MSP Emergency Management and Homeland Security Training Center is currently preparing to undergo an expansion, and officials say the expansion will allow them to train more people.

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