At NOPB, safety is our first priority each and every day.

NOPB has a safety and training department, dedicated to two core missions:

  • To create a safe environment for all employees, customers and the public
  • To maintain compliance with all federal, state, and local rules and regulations

To achieve these objectives, NOPB has a robust internal education program and strong working relationships with the emergency response community. In 2017, our team received 4,691 hours of training. We are on track to surpass that in 2018.

Our team is on call 24/7/365 in the unlikely event of an emergency. The NOPB emergency line is 504.896.7442. If you are in need of immediate assistance, dial 911.

Safety - Hazmat Transportation

   Why do railroads move hazmat?

The freight rail industry has an impressive safety record, with 99.999% of hazmat carloads moved without incident. Our commitment to becoming even safer makes us the best choice for moving hazmat materials vital to our everyday lives. In fact, the federal government requires railroads to carry hazardous materials.

According to March 2017 Federal Railroad Administration data based on per million train miles, since 2000 the:

  • Train accident rate is down 44%
  • Equipment-caused accident rate is down 34%
  • Track-caused accident rate is down 53%
  • Derailment rate is down 44%

   Does NOPB have special operating procedures for these commodities?

NOPB has adopted special operating practices for hazmat transport that meet and exceed regulatory requirements to help ensure these sensitive commodities are shipped safely and securely. These protocols were recently reviewed and expanded to cover all trains carrying a single carload of certain hazmat or 20 carloads of any combination of hazmat, such as crude oil and ethanol. These include protocols such as:

  • NOPB requires ALL trains adhere to a low speed restriction through Orleans Parish, regardless of what they carry.
  • NOPB inspects rail line multiple times a week for any defects.
  • Strict operating practices are in place in rail yards with regard to coupling and uncoupling cars.
  • NOPB plans and attends emergency response planning groups across the city, state and country every year.

   Are all railcars built the same?

The federal government, railroads and suppliers have worked together to create top-of-the-line railcars to ensure the safety of hazmat transportation. Though a railcar carrying corn syrup and a railcar carrying crude oil may appear the same, there is a lot people don’t see. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a rule mandating older tank cars transporting hazardous materials be retrofitted under an aggressive timeline or phased out to meet new rigorous standards. More information can be found here.

   Is NOPB prepared in the unlikely event of an emergency?

At NOPB, our incident command structure includes: police, fire, city, state and federal agencies, in addition to members of our team. We are on-call 24/7/365. Throughout the year, we participate in tabletop and hands-on preparedness exercises with first responders. Our internal team also receives hazmat awareness training and emergency response training, with select team members attending the rigorous Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) rail safety course in Pueblo, Colorado.

We plan and/or participate in:

  • Rail 101 and Emergency Preparedness Class for local responders and Harbor Police
  • Table-top planned and hosted by NOPB with the assistance and coordination of NOHSEP (New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness)
  • The Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop
  • The New Orleans Regional Intermodal Security Exercise (I-STEP) with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  • Chlorine Institute Safety Training Day
  • Active Shooter Full-Scale Exercise
  • 2018 Hazardous Material Training - Company Compliance

Safety - Rail Crossing Safety

   Why is rail crossing safety important?

Approximately 95% of all rail-related deaths involve drivers at grade crossings or people trespassing on railroad tracks. Though the grade crossing collision rate has fallen every year since 1980, it is vital that both pedestrians and drivers stay vigilant when travelling near or across the tracks.

   Who is responsible for evaluating grade crossings risks?

States, not railroads, are responsible for evaluating grade crossing risk and improvements. Railroads, however, invest heavily in grade crossing safety improvements across the national network. At NOPB, we are currently assessing opportunities and making upgrades as a part of our Urban Railroad Initiative.

   How can I stay safe near railroad tracks?

  • Cross railroad tracks at a designated public crossing with either a crossbuck, flashing red lights or gate. If you cross at any other point, you are trespassing and can be ticketed or fined.
  • Obey all lights and signals.
  • Never walk or drive around the gates.
  • "Selfies" and photo shoots on train tracks have deadly consequences. The picture is not worth the consequences.
  • Do not attempt to jump onto railcars or equipment. It is trespassing and may cost you your life.
  • Always stay vigilant. Trains do not run on schedules and can approach at any time.

For more rail safety information, visit Operation Lifesaver, a national organization dedicated to rail safety education and accident prevention.

   How do you identify which railroad a crossing belongs to?

Every public road crossing has a post-mounted sign identifying the railroad name, the DOT crossing number and the emergency telephone number. The reflective sign is the size of a vehicle license. Every private road crossing is identified by the “Private Crossing” sign. The crossing identification number, the name of the railroad and the emergency telephone number will be shown on a sticker. You can also identify the railroad by using the FRA Crossing Locator.

Resources

   Apps

Ask Rail

AskRail is a FREE mobile application that provide immediate access to accurate, near real-time information about railcars carrying hazardous materials on a train. It serves emergency responders who arrive first to the scene of a railroad incident and helps them make informed decisions about how to respond to a rail incident.

This is a tool all bona-fide emergency responders need to have. It is NOT available to the general public. To learn more about the application, refer to askrail.us. To request full access to the AskRail app, download the app from the Google Play store or the Apple App Store. Complete the registration process in the app on your device. You will receive an email notification once your registration has been approved. For security reasons, only qualified emergency responders can download and use the restricted features in the AskRail app.

FRA Grade Crossing Locator

The Crossing Locator was developed by the Federal Railroad Administration to provide users with access to the highway-rail grade crossing database and map features from a mobile device. The tool allows users to locate crossings by USDOT Crossing ID, address or geo-location, access inventory records submitted by states and railroads, and view accident history. Users can also select from multiple base map features and identify railroad crossings by special characteristics.

The information accessed in the mobile application is derived from the Safety Data website using information submitted by states and railroads. While this is an effective tool, please use the ENS information and contact number during an emergency situation. The Crossing Locator App is currently available for Apple and Android devices.

More information on the mobile application can be found at: http://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/details/L04641.

NOLA Ready

NOLA Ready is your hub for emergency preparedness and response in New Orleans, managed by the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. The site includes a sign-up for the city-wide emergency alert system and additional information.

   Useful Websites

   Rail Carrier Emergency Contact Information