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Railroad Official Addresses Concerns in Hurley

By Jim Owen

The majority of Tuesday's regular monthly meeting of the Hurley Town Council was devoted to concerns about recent train derailments.

Trains have left their tracks near Hurley and Bayard four times in the past two years. One of the incidents, in late November, resulted in three deaths. The latest derailment (on Friday, May 30) involved four tanker cars carrying sulfuric acid to the Chino Mine.

Jim Jacobs, operations manager for the Southwestern Railroad's Whitewater Division, spoke and answered questions at the council meeting. He stressed that "there were no leaks or spills" from the most recent derailment.

"The protocols established by the Federal Railroad Administration, (regarding) how we do the assessments of incidents, work," he told the Beat. "We made all the appropriate notifications."

According to Jacobs, a crew is assigned to the Hurley area to conduct regular track inspections and maintenance. He said the workers are on the scene three to four days each week.

"We're always working on the tracks and training our personnel," Jacobs added. "We do care about safety and the communities we go through."

He noted that an investigation of Friday's derailment is under way, and that "it could be a week or so before there is a final determination (of the cause of the crash)."

Hurley Mayor Edward Encinas is not waiting for the results of the probe before taking action. He is working with the town's police department and Tri-County Area officials to draft an emergency-response plan for future derailments.

Establishing procedures will ensure that "if there is a haz-mat situation, we can plan an evacuation," Encinas said.

The only other item of business on the council's agenda was to approve the hiring of lifeguards at the municipal pool. The facility opened for the season Tuesday.

Pool hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Encinas pointed out that the $2 admission fee is "a lot less than they charge at other pools" in the area.

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