There is a full scale hazmat emergency drill taking place this week in Rockbridge County, Virginia – in the southwest corner of the state. More than 85 first respondersand safety workers from across the region are working together to train for responding to various truck hazards, including dangerous chemical spills on highways.

No community in Virginia can sit back and think that they will not have potentially dangerous truck incidents, according to Greg Britt the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) Director of Technological Hazards.

VDEM, the EPA, local law enforcement and emergency responders worked this week during an intense training exercise involving truck chemical spills on roadways. Britt stated that one never knows the sort of chemical accident that can occur. It could be a simple truck accident involving oil or diesel fuel. Or it could be a deliberate act by terrorists. Either way, communities in Virginia need to be ready for all kinds of truck emergencies.

Training is underway in SW VA to deal with dangerous truck chemical spill emergencies.

Hazmat crews routinely pay close attention to I-81, because it gets a high level of tractor trailer traffic.

According to Neal Turn, the Montgomery County, Virginia emergency services coordinator, when there is a tractor trailer accident, there is potential for a chemical spill on the highway, which could include a hazardous material or diesel fuel. The cargo in the hold also could be ruptured and could leak hazards chemicals on the roads, as well.

Turner noted that his hazmat crews respond to a hazmat call about once per week in his part of VA, and most are on I-81.

Britt stated that across the state, there are about 2000 hazmat calls annually, and many are related to a gasoline spill.

Turner added that I-81 is not a highway for just truckers, or car drivers, or just pickup truck drivers. It is for everyone, and it is our responsibility to share the highway and look out for others.