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Front Page » February 10, 2009 » Emery County News » Part III: Creating vigilant communities for homeland secu...
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Part III: Creating vigilant communities for homeland security

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The task of creating vigilant communities for homeland security and emergency preparedness is something everyone needs to think about and be aware. Individual preparedness is a necessity, but so is community awareness and awareness in the business world as well.

The Hunter Power Plant safety team set-up a table top program where they practiced what would happen in an emergency scenario and what their response would be. Hunter gathered all their safety personnel as well as key people at the power plant. Everyone needs to be involved and aware and on the same page in the event of an emergency. The Emery County Sheriff's Office response team was involved in the exercise to determine their role in an emergency at the power plant and to make the Hunter Emergency Response Team aware of exactly how the sheriff's office will help and what their resources are in an emergency.

In this scenario a truck carrying sulphuric acid had come onto the Hunter Plant site to deliver 6,000 gallons of acid. The driver pulled up to the water treatment building to unload. He was able to get the discharge hose connected to the inlet to water treatment. He was opening the discharge valve when the truck started to roll away. The driver was hit by the rear set of tires. As he was trying to get to the shut off valve going to water treatment, the hose was pulled off the truck and doused the driver with the acid. The driver was only in street clothes and did not have his safety gear on at the time nor a face shield.

A lab technician saw the driver get hit and tried to help, but could not get to him, due to the acid spraying on him and the building. The truck rolled into the ditch and as it hit broke off the discharge valve off of the trailer. This let the entire trailer empty into the low area just north of the water treatment building. The area around the truck and trailer had acid approximately two inches deep and the low lying area north of the building has two feet in it. A code yellow and code blue was called and the Hunter Hazmat team and the HERT team responded to the area. The Emery County Hazmat team was called to help with the problem. The driver was burned and had a compound fracture of the left leg.

After Les Thompson, safety manager for Hunter read the scenario the group discussed the implications of a problem like this. Sgt. Tom Harrison from the sheriff's office said in an emergency of this type, things just seem to go in slow motion. No one would be able to reach the man who was injured quickly. The haz-mat team would need to fully suit up to approach someone covered in sulphuric acid. There is also a risk of fire in this situation and it must be handled very carefully. "We already have one man hurt, we don't want anyone else hurt. Rushing in isn't always the best thing to do," said Sgt. Harrison.

The sheriff's office would set up their mobile command center at a safe distance from the accident. The sheriff's deputies would respond and keep unnecessary people away from the power plant and at a safe distance. Sgt. Harrison said in the events of emergencies you always have the families of those involved that want to know what's going on and the curious show up. A perimeter would be established around the accident. People would be stopped at the road and only authorized personnel would be allowed close to the plant.

Plant personnel will be notified if an evacuation is in order and evacuation plans are in place at the power plant. Each supervisor has a list of their employees and is accountable to see each employee reaches safety. There are gathering places in the parking lot for this purpose.

Anyone involved in the rescue of the injured truck driver would need to go through a decontamination process. The sulphuric acid would need to be wiped off the injured party and then rinsed with a lot of water. Everyone contaminated would need to go through the decontamination process.

The haz-mat crew would contain the scene and dam and dike the leaking product. They would do this in their fully encapsulated suits.

The group discussed how the notification process would work for informing people of the mishap. The Southeastern Utah Health Department would be contacted and the state Haz-Mat office would need to be contacted. The Emery County dispatch can take care of these notifications. The response time to get a haz-mat crew to the scene would be about a half an hour. Sgt. Harrison said Emery County and Carbon County team up for haz-mat situations. Carbon County can work to relieve the Emery County rescuers. You need at least six technicians ready to go,

Hunter personnel said they would look at the supplies they have available for haz-mat situations. They were doubtful they would have the victim out before the haz-mat crew arrived.

Thompson said the shift supervisor will be in charge of any incident at the power plant. Capt. Kyle Ekker said it is everyone's first response to try and go get the victim, but rescuers must be properly equipped. The plant will evaluate how many self rescuers they have. Thirty minutes is about how long they last. The fire department has an air trailer that can fill tanks on site. The plant has the equipment available to do containment of the chemical.

After the victim has been rescued he should be moved to fresh air and given CPR rescue breathing as needed. Oxygen should be administered. The exposed area to the chemical should be kept immersed in water if possible and covered with wet bandages.

The group called Richard Gee from the state office so he could explain the options and resources available at the state level. He said the state can get materials here as fast as they can get here. They can also offer technological help and suggestions. Rocky Mountain Power has statewide media representatives and can have a representative at the command post and help with briefings and press conferences. As Rocky Mountain Power is a private industry, they are in control of all information coming out about any incident at the plant. The sheriff's office said they can activate the Code Red system too, if it's needed.

After the initial event, the secondary actions come into play concerning clean-up. RMP has their own clean-up company under contract. Clean-up companies will remove contaminated dirt and reclaim damaged areas.

Technicians must be certified and trained to handle contaminated materials. The Hunter plant is going to look at more training to get their lab technicians certified to the operations level. Also training is available to help personnel become NIMS compliant.

Loren Huntsman from Hunter said the safety of the personnel at the plant is their first concern during any incident at the plant. The equipment and environmental impacts are of secondary concern.

It was mentioned that sometimes during overhaul there are extra people on site, who aren't familiar with all the safety protocol and procedures at the plant. If an evacuation is in order the security office is to make sure everyone is off site and evacuated. The truck drivers bringing coal into the plant can be reached by CB radio as can the Ashworth trucks who haul the ash at the plant.

Huntsman said in an emergency situation decisions have to be made quickly and this table top exercise helps to get information out and gets everyone thinking along the same lines for safety.

The same type of exercise was held at the Huntington Plant during the afternoon under the direction of Ed Lee and Darrell Cunningham.

Emery County Sheriff LaMar Guymon said, "Homeland Security is one of the most important functions our office supplies. It's not just a focus on attacks from outside or foreign sources, but we consider Homeland Security as anything that affects the health and safety of Emery County citizens. Homeland Security has been a great source of funding. Our office takes Homeland Security very seriously. We are hampered by a lack of funding at the local level and this federal and state funding has enabled us to acquire equipment vital to Homeland Security. We are fortunate to have people in place at the power plants that we can work with and we enjoy a very good relationship with the power plants as well as the coal mines in the area. The power plants and the coal mines have a willingness to work with us on training and exercises which will help ensure the safety of their employees."

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February 10, 2009
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