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Transportation & Response Symposium
Speakers List

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Matthew Thompson

Manager of Hazardous Materials for Union Pacific Railroad

Matthew Thompson, Manager of Hazardous Materials for Union Pacific Railroad has lead, directed and managed the emergency response to numerous hazardous material releases in the Chicago area. Prior to becoming a railroader, he served as a Firefighter/EMT for Cherry Valley Fire and has worked as a project manager for an emergency response contractor. In his time with the railroad he has presented various safety programs to first responders, shippers, and regulators with focus on safety when responding to rail emergencies.


Chris Sowden

Chris has worked in Chemical Safety focussed roles for over 20 years, developing a detailed knowledge of chemical safety regulations and extensive experience of emergency response. 

He has worked with the NCEC emergency response team for over 10 years providing advice to several hundred emergency response calls. Providing support to the emergency services, chemical industry emergency response teams, medical practitioners and members of the public. In his current role he is responsible for the effective functioning of the ER team, providing expertise to complex incidents and inputting to the technical training and competence of the team. His expertise has also been used in authoring operational guidance used by all UK Fire and Rescue Services.

Chris has also worked in chemical hazard communication roles providing consultancy support of global hazard classification and safety data sheet regulations and the requirements of transportation regulations for land, sea and air modes. He has a high level of expertise in dangerous goods transport regulations.

He has a BSc in Chemistry and a Postgraduate Diploma in Medical Toxicology.


Jeff Louis

President of TCI Tank Logistics, LLC dba Freedom Intermodal 

Jeff currently serves as President of TCI Tank Logistics, LLC dba Freedom Intermodal, which is forward-thinking asset based logistics provider specializing in the transportation of bulk liquids.  Jeff started his career with Jensen Companies, LLC as their Chief Financial Officer and went on to serve as President of their dry box container division, TCI Trucking & Warehousing, before being appointed to his current role.


Jeff previously worked for Edgen Murray, a steel distribution company, as a Financial Controller and Analyst in both Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Edinburgh, Scotland and also worked for Ernst & Young, LLP in their audit department for over 5 years focusing on both public and private companies.  


He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from the University of New Orleans.  He is also Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and sits on the board of the International Freight Forwarders and Customs Brokers Association of New Orleans (IFFCBANO).


Mike has worked in the Chemical industry in Environment, Transport and Emergency Response roles for more than 33 years.  A graduate of the University of Massachusetts and an attendee of the Eisenberg School of Management, he currently serves as the primary supply chain and manufacturing risk and regulatory affairs manager for Styrolution’ s facilities throughout the world.  Mike serves on the CEFIC / Plastics Europe Styrene Monomer working group.

Styrolution is the leading integrated styrenics polymer manufacturer in the world with 16 production sites in 9 countries.

Pete Rucks


Manager, Leased & Rail Equipment for CF Industries Sales LLC (CF)


Pete is currently the Manager, Leased & Rail Equipment for CF Industries Sales LLC (CF). CF is a leading global manufacturer of hydrogen and nitrogen products for clean energy, emissions abatement, fertilizer and other industrial applications.

Pete has worked for CF for 39 years, the last 20 years in the Rail Transportation Group. CF has a rail fleet of 5,000 tank and hopper cars. Some of his responsibilities include sourcing the fleet among 7 US and Canadian plants, as well as maintenance of cars. Additionally, he works with Emergency Response Teams when issues occur requiring these services. Pete is on the Transportation Committee for both The Fertilizer Institute and Fertilizer Canada.

Pete is married with two daughters and has five grandchildren.

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Craig Spears


Vice President Safety, Security, and Emergency Response at Cooper River Partner, LLC (Bushy Park) & Vice President of Hydera, LLC


Mr. Spears serves in a dual role as a critical part of the executive team for Cooper River Partners (CRP) on the Bushy Park (BP) industrial site and Hydera, subsidiaries of Pacolet Milliken.  Craig has executive oversight of Bushy Park’s emergency response, safety, security, and occupational health programs.  Bushy Park is home to eleven independent manufacturing companies who manufacture a wide range of products. The manufacturing operations include dyes and optical brighteners for the paper and detergent industries, chemical additives for the rubber industry, photographic film, flavorings, pigments for the apparel industry, and tire grade precipitated silica. Additionally, he provides executive oversight and development of the Hydera business at Bushy Park. Hydera is a full-service depot servicing the needs of the bulk liquids transportation industry through the Charleston, South Carolina marketplace. Prior to joining his current team in 2018, Craig served 21 years in the Air Force Fire & Emergency Services flight, operating around the world

Russell Harrison

Russell Harrison is a tank container industry veteran with 30 years of experience in manufacturing, selling, leasing, repairing, refurbishing, and modifying portable tanks.  A native of Houston, Texas, he graduated from the University of Houston before entering the industry in 1993.  Russell learned from ISO tank industry pioneers, and enjoys teaching others.  He still works for Tank Service Inc., a company he founded over 20 years ago to provide tank equipment and component spare parts to customers throughout North and South America


Chris Pape 

Vice President of Safety and Training
Groendyke Transport

Chris joined Groendyke Transport in 2002 as a Tank Truck Driver in Fort Worth, Tx. He has spent all of his adult years in the Trucking Industry, and began his safety career in 2007 with Groendyke. He has since promoted up to Vice President of Safety and Training, leading field and office safety staff, emergency response, orientation, claims processing, and risk mitigation. His passion is to create systems using process and technology that consistently reduce risk of injury to the people involved, property damage, and environmental exposures, around this great industry.


Mike Stillwell

DGSA Certified and a SME Distribution Safety for HuntsmanManager of Huntsman Emergency Response Organization Americas. 

Mike has over 50 years of manufacturing experience.  In fact, he celebrates his 50th Anniversary working for Huntsman in October. He started as a contractor in 1972 and he was hired as an operator one year later. He has experience in plastics manufacturing and safe chemical manufacturing.  He has held many positions over the years learning manufacturing, loading, and transporting all kinds of dangerous goods. He has held positions from Operator to Plant Superintendent.  Throughout his years Safety has been his mantra. In 2004 Huntsman moved him to the corporate headquarters to Manage the Transportation Safety Group. He later became the Manager of Huntsman Emergency Response Organization.  He travels worldwide auditing plants and training staff where his focus is on making sure that hazardous materials are loaded safely to ensure it gets from one place to another by land, sea, or air safely and compliant with the laws of each country.  He is also the first point of contact for Huntsman when Emergency Response is needed

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Greg Hallet

Greg Hallet is an Emergency Response Specialist with Shell and is the Co-leader the Shell Response Action Team for HazMat response in the Americas. 

In his 15 years at Shell, Greg has worked around the globe with multiple levels of the business, leading Frontline Staff, Leaders, and Senior Management in pre-planning for incidents, emergency response training sessions, incident investigations and supporting fire and HazMat responses. 

Greg’s response history with large incidents includes the Fort MacMurray Wildfire in 2016, Brazil Northeast oil spill in 2019, and Hurricane Ida in 2021. Greg and his team continue to lead multiple safe and successful HAZMAT responses for incidents involving reactive, flammable and TIH products in the USA, Canada, and Mexico. 

With 19 years in municipal emergency services, he has served as a Firefighter, Captain, and Training Officer with several Fire Departments, and been awarded the Alberta Emergency Services Medal. 

Greg continues to serve as Fire Instructor for Shell’s Corporate Fire School at the TEEX Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station several times a year.

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Andy Elkins

Director of Hazardous Materials Compliance

-American Association of Railroads

In Mr. Elkins current position as Director of Hazardous Materials Compliance with the Bureau of Explosives' / AAR, and in his previous experience in law enforcement, having served 27 years as a Special Operations Police Officer with the Metro Nashville, Tennessee Police Department, he has seen first-hand how First Responders rush toward incidents that most others are running from. Andy strongly support programs that provide information that keep these responders, and the communities they serve, safe.


Tyler Parker

Hazardous Materials Management

-Union Pacific Railroad - Houston, TX

Tyler Parker manages hazardous materials and environmental incident prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery for the Houston area.  Tyler joined Union Pacific Railroad in 2014. His education consists of numerous certifications related to hazardous materials, and environmental response, including the DOD Fire Service. Tyler also has an A.S. in Emergency Management from the U.S.A.F. and a B.S. in Human Resource Development from Southwestern College. Tyler's pre-railroad experience includes three years as Environmental Technician at iSi Environmental and six years at the Kansas Air National Guard in Emergency Management. In his spare time he enjoys taking his children fishing, camping, and four-wheeling. He also spends time riding his motorcycle.

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Scott Skelton

Principal Exposure Scientist for Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health

-LLC (CTEH®) in Little Rock, Arkansas

Scott is a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) with 17 years of experience in chemical safety for emergency response, industrial toxicology, and energy industries.  Scott graduated from Arkansas State with a B.S. in Biology and Chemistry, and Montana Technological University with a Master of Science in Industrial Hygiene.  Scott is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Fire Science from Oklahoma State University.  His career remains focused on worker exposure and exposure control for Emergency Response events and Industrial Toxicology, while pursuing novel research in hydrocarbon firefighting and exposure during foam application. To date, Scott has responded to over 2000 chemical and natural disaster responses of national and international significance.  These include train derailments, chemical plant fires, well-control events and large-scale releases from pipeline, marine, storage, and offshore exploration.

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Tom DeLafosse

Certified Quality Auditor, (CQA), through The American Society of Quality (ASQ), is a member of both the Railway Supply Institute (RSI) Quality Assurance Committee and Committee for Tank Cars

Tom has 48 years of experience in quality assurance, design, repair, and inspection of railroad tank cars. Over his career he has developed numerous inspection, repair, training, and quality assurance programs. For the last 25 years he has provided regulatory compliance support to railcar owners and repair shops alike that assists them with any of their AAR or FRA compliance issues.


Tom spent 25-years with Graver Tank and Union Tank Car Company (UTC) starting in 1975, 7-years in new car engineering designing and building new cars and 13-years in fleet repair engineering and inspection services. Tom also served as Rescar’s Vice President of Quality Assurance and spent 16 years with AllTranstek, and additional 5-years with Watco Compliance Services prior to joining in Salco Products in 2016 as the VP of Technical Service. Tom now serves as the SVP of Quality and Regulatory Compliance for all the A.Stucki companies.

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Ryan Giddings

Ryan Giddings is a Certified Safety Professional with more than 10 years of experience in the chemical manufacturing industry.

Ryan’s current role includes ensuring technical and regulatory requirements are satisfied for the safe transportation of hazardous materials via rail, roadway and waterway. Additionally, his duties also include Product Stewardship regarding the safe transportation, storage and handling of products and transportation emergency response. His experience includes inspections, auditing, investigations, emergency response and regulatory compliance.


José N. Guillén

COSCO Shipping Lines

(North America) Inc.

Sr. Manager 

Dangerous Goods Department

Knowledgeable, up-and-coming leader in a Global Hazmat transportation companies management and operational procedures. After extensive work with freight forwarders and several years with NRS Group (Interflow) he later joined COSCO SHIPPING, where he quickly raised within the ranks and became the leader of its DG program across the US and Canada. He is accredited with the exponential growth of the Global Fortune 500 Company’s DG program in the US and represents them in global research for more innovative ways to address the increasing concerns of misinformation and clarity when it comes to the sharing of DG information. In addition to his work with COSCO, he is also a board member of respected industry associations like IVODGA (International Vessel Operators Dangerous Goods Association), where he amongst his peers discusses and writes proposals on UN regulations affecting the industry as a whole.

José N. Guillén

COSCO Shipping Lines

(North America) Inc.

Sr. Manager 

Dangerous Goods Department

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Ryan Nawrocki

US Fire Pump Company, LLC
Chief Engineer and Chief Emergency Response Technician

Ryan has 30+ years of product development and engineering in the fire equipment/apparatus and specialty vehicle fields. Ryan has had the opportunity to develop engineer and bring to production new emergency vehicles from ground up through new chassis, cab, bodies, aerials, and pumps. Very few have had the opportunity to literally engineer a fire apparatus from bumper to bumper, especially new product lines. This allows him to manage the engineering and production teams for quality and resilience in the products. Ryan is a veteran firefighter of 20+ years and has extensive training in Flammable Liquids Firefighting, Hazardous Materials Response, Confined Space Rescue, Advance Level Command, National Incident Management System, High Angle Rescue, Driver, and Pump Operations. As a hazmat technician, Ryan was able to work towards his specialist in hydrocarbons fuel spills and fuel in-depth fires. This has allowed Ryan a better insight into the engineering and development of new firefighting tools for the fellow firefighter. “I know the pain of apparatus or equipment not performing the task at hand in a critical situation, firefighting we have to perform at a level above with little room for error. Many times, it’s a life or death decision in a split second and expect our tools and equipment to be there without fail.” Ryan is a certified IFSTA and ProBoard Instructor. Ryan has successfully participated in and successfully commanded many large-scale industrial fire events and rescues.

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John R. West, PE CHMM PMP

Mr. West is a professional engineer, hazardous materials manager, and project manager with 23 years of experience in high-stress decision-making and flexible problem-solving.  John’s many years of performing emergency response work give him the ability to quickly assess hazards and provide expert guidance for the containment, monitoring, and removal of hazardous chemical and oil spills.  He has implemented multiple new programs for companies including developing an FAA-compliant commercial sUAS (drone) program, standing up an Emergency Response group, establishing an American Association of Railroads compliant repair shop, and most recently has relocated from the United States to Singapore to establish new emergency response operations in the Asia Pacific Region.


Drew Higgins

Vice President of Operations at OURAY

Mr. Higgins has over 20 years of experience in the hazardous materials field operations with a focus on mitigation of hazardous materials within a contracting regime.  His experience includes: Incident Command and Project Management of personnel, equipment, and logistical assets for a variety of incidents including emergency response to transportation disasters (train derailments, tanker rollovers), natural disasters, chemical plant recoveries, large contaminated earth moving and in-situ remediation project, storage tank removals, industrial site services, and large-scale hazardous waste management.  Mr. Higgins current duties include Vice President of Operations.

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