The Allen County Board of Commissioners accepted a contract during Legislative Session, December 8, 2023, to complete a Commodity Flow Study, an in-depth account of the movement of hazardous material traveling through Allen County.
Commissioner Rich Beck recalled that the train carrying hazardous material that derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier this year passed through the heart of downtown Fort Wayne. “My concern is what are we doing about prevention,” he shared.
According to Bernie Beier, the Director of Allen County’s Office of Homeland Security, “This Commodity Flow Study will take an in-depth look at our various transportation modalities, where they are, where they go (through), what they carry, as well as historical data related to actual crashes, incidents, impacts, and the likelihood of risk/vulnerability to specific areas.” He continued, “The detailed risk analysis is an important piece for our local economy in order to identify ways to thoughtfully manage this risk, locally, for a better prepared and resilient county.”
The Office of Homeland Security works in conjunction with many agencies to assess risk and plan for and mitigate catastrophic events. According to Beier, the project is a success story of local partnership and action, necessitating the collaborative effort of the Indiana Department of Transportation, the Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council or NIRCC, Allen County Highway, Sheriff’s Office, and the Local Emergency Planning Committee.
The funding for the study will be provided by the Local Emergency Planning Committee fund, not from the County’s general fund. The special fund was created through state statute for hazardous materials planning. Local purchasing and contracting procedures are used for accessing and spending the funds since the local county government serves as the custodian of the fund. Because an important first step in prevention is having a detailed risk analysis, the commissioners unanimously voted to approve the contract with Sesco Group who will execute the Commodity Flow Study.