LEPC hears reporting practices for toxic spills
The Emery County Local Emergency planning committee met in their July meeting. The purpose of the LEPC is to help the county become better prepared to handle any emergency that comes up in the county. The committee is made up of a representative from each of the cities and towns, members of the Emery County Sheriff's Office, Homeland Security, Emergency Services and the media.
At the July meeting, Meghan Balough the coordinator of the National Toxic Substance Incidents Program formerly known as the Hazardous Substances Emergency Event Surveillance Program. The Program's goal is to reduce injury and death from toxic substance incidents in Utah and is in conjunction with the Utah Department of Health. NTSIP collects data about incidents which are within the 72 hours window and tracks them for use by companies and programs in the state. They also have an outreach program to help identify the risk factors, develop reduction strategies, provide data to first responders, employers, and general public, identify most commonly released chemicals, educate first responders, employees and general public and most commonly released chemicals and provide presentations on the system and its finding. The gas leak in Ferron will not show up on their stats because it was considered a chronic incident, greater than 72 hours.
In 2009 250 events fit their case definition. Sgt. Tom Harrison asked who's responsibility it is to report to NTSIP. Balough said they get their reports on a voluntary basis and most come from the National Response center and poison control. In the case of a hazardous spill the responsible party would be required to report to Environmental Quality who then often report to NTSIP.
The LEPC helped with the Emergency Preparedness Fair on June 18: Sgt. Harrison said the committee felt it was a success with a good turnout and positive comments. One of the reasons for this year's success was the committee organized to plan the fair so that the responsibility did not fall on just one or two people.
Next year's emergency fair will be held in Carbon County. Martin Wilson suggested having workshops gearing up for the fair just that week prior. These could include Storm Ready, Storm Watchers, CERT, fire extinguisher classes etc. The vendors seemed satisfied with the way things were organized and had an opportunity to visit with many fair goers about their specialties.
Sgt. Harrison reported on a slot canyon rescue and gas leak in Ferron. The slot canyon rescue was in Zero Gravity canyon by Goblin Valley. A 16 year old large Boy Scout climbed up and slipped into a slot. They couldn't get to him from the bottom. The Rope Rescue team attempted from above. The responders were frustrated and were ready to call in Utah Valley's group when they were finally able to provide support platform from below, lubricate and finally the scout was dislodged. The rope rescue team has been called eight times since their training and are becoming a valuable part of emergency response in our area.
Ferron Mayor JoAnn Behling, thanked the Sheriff's office for their response to the gas leak. Citizens along Molen Road reported to the Special Services District a gas odor from the sewer. They first flushed the lines, but the odor came right back. It's possible that this has been going on for some time. A big concern was volatile fumes, but it was determined that LEL's weren't high enough for explosive danger, just an annoyance. One house has had the smell in drinking water which is likely to have come from the benzene penetrating the plastic pipes. Other entities involved were the EPA, Division of Water Quality and Division of Drinking Water. The ground around is saturated and soil may have to be removed. The costs will likely have to be borne by the business owner. Response groups have possible recourse to recoup costs involved through a program.
Work is continuing on the emergency operations plan. Sgt. Harrison said, "It looked good, and we made a few corrections. When it is completed he will come down and present to all cities. They'll be able to sign a formal document adopting it. It is hoped that this will be completed before the end of the HLS09 grant cycle.
In Huntington their CERT training is almost complete, six people need one more class. They have selected a team leader. Jerry Livingston said Huntington is considering a generator for City Hall. Sgt. Harrison suggested diesel, but then on finding that it would be a permanent one, natural gas or propane would be a good option. Generators of this nature would need to be run on a regular basis to maintain viability.
The foresters reported their fire season is quiet for now. No controlled burns are planned for remainder of year. No burn restrictions on the forest are in place.
The photographers for the aerial photos of the county have begun to fly and gather the pictures they need.
Christine Bardsley said that Dr. Otto Dickman has left the clinic and it is without a physician. They are in the process of recruiting but are currently covered by Dr. Frazier from the ER in Price. A physician is coming temporarily for a month.
LEPC committee members in attendance included: Sgt. Tom Harrison, Michael Riley, Justin Needles, Martin Wilson, Cynthia Grant, Jed Jensen, JoAnn Behling, Patsy Stoddard, Jerry Livingston and Christine Bardsley.