Hazardous Materials Study Series Helps Local Jurisdictions Plan and Exercise Better

IEM worked with the North Carolina Emergency Management Division’s Information and Planning Section to complete a five-year hazardous materials study series for the state’s nine Domestic Preparedness Regions (DPRs). The study provides an assessment of the hazardous materials risks near critical facilities such as schools, public buildings, congested transportation routes, and areas with large population densities.

Such locations can be particularly vulnerable to hazardous materials releases, as seen in the 2006 Environmental Quality (EQ) Company chemical fire in Apex, North Carolina, that resulted in an evacuation order for 17,000 residents or in the 2010 tanker truck accident that spilled 6,000 gallons of methanol in Bladen County. Before the EQ fire, many Apex residents and city officials were unaware of the volume or nature of chemicals stored on site and their potential disastrous effects on the community.

“With the increasing amount of hazardous materials produced, transported, and stored in our state, the possibility of a chemical release is greater than it was a decade ago,” said Ed Jenkins, Deputy Chief, Information and Planning Section. “Many facilities and transportation companies comply with regulations, but others can operate under the radar of governmental oversight without having to fully disclose the types and quantities of hazardous material stored.”

The regional hazardous materials study identifies facilities and transportation routes not previously known. Each of the nine DPR sites has undergone a thorough analysis and now has a detailed description of hazardous materials facilities in their area. Hazardous materials produced, stored, and transported within each of the counties have been identified along with their proximities to locations frequented by the public.

The success of the Hazardous Materials Study Series has resulted in IEM being awarded an additional five-year contract focused on risk assessment. The North Carolina Hazardous Materials Risk Assessment will result in the development of HAZMAT risk assessments for 15 North Carolina counties.

Most of the information on this page was adapted from the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management newsletter: http://www.nccrimecontrol.org/div/em/newsletters/December2010.pdf