MIAMISBURG, Ohio (WDTN) – A white, toxic cloud filling the air over Miamisburg is a sight hard to forget after nearly 30 years.
It is one that first responders in the Miami Valley remember quite clearly after fifteen cars of a train derailed near Bear Creek in the summer of 1986.
“To this date, still the largest evacuation of a population because of a hazardous materials,” said Denny Bristow, coordinator for the Dayton Regional Haz-Mat Team.
Bristow was there after the train derailed. The incident sent toxic vapor into the air and put chemicals into Bear Creek.
It prompted the evacuation of fifty thousand people and sent hundreds to the hospital.
“Right at rush hour on a weekday,” Bristow recalled. “The problems just compounded there. It was a multiple day event.”
It is something Bristow and his team prepare for constantly should it ever happen again.
The team, consisting of first responders from Montgomery and Greene Counties, are trained to handle another disaster to keep people in the area safe.
Several times a year, first responders will run mock disaster scenarios covering events like tornadoes, oil spills, and train derailments.
It pays to practice for a situation that could create a dangerous situation for thousands of people like the train derailment nearly 30 years ago.
“The containers are so large,” said Bristow. “A gasoline tanker has eight maybe nine-thousand gallons of gasoline. A rail tanker of gasoline can have over 35 almost 40 thousand gallons.”