On Saturday, Olin Chlor officials along with representatives and players from Wacker Chemie and Lonza participated in an exercise to hone their skills under the Incident Command system, as well as the opportunity to work with all local first response agencies.
“As I said in a public statement earlier this week, our Charleston plant has an outstanding safety record,” stated Ken Corley, plant manager at Olin Clor.
“This drill is a part of our ongoing efforts to further enhance our safety and health initiatives. We are proud to be a part of this community and we appreciate the opportunity to work with emergency management personnel to anticipate and prepare for potential incidents. We know our responsibility as a corporate citizen and neighbor in Bradley County,” Corley said.
“These drills help prepare all of those who are involved in emergency management in this community.”
Members of Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency (CBCEMA), Charleston Police, Bradley County Fire Rescue, Cleveland Fire Department and Olin officials were all players during the exercise.
CBCEMA also used Twitter and NIXLE, local public notification systems, keeping subcribers to the notification services abreast of the unfolding situations during the exercise.
“We want everyone who can to sign up for NIXLE notifications,” CBCEMA Director Troy Spence said .
“It is a valuable tool to stay informed of any emergency situation which may affect Bradley County, Cleveland or Charleston and one of the best things about it … it’s free to those who want to subscribe,” he added.
According to CBCEMA, the objectives of the drill were to demonstrate the ability to activate the Crisis Management Team and Center, test provisions for public information and emergency procedures, following Incident Command plans and a unified response along with recovery through proper assessment and management.
The drill also tested the needs of medical response, fire and hazardous materials response and proper communication abilities between agencies.
Corley said Saturday that Safety Teams with Olin continually perform exercises, but Saturday’s exercise actually placed outside responders and resources to the critical situation areas.
The scenario was simple from the front side. Of course with any exercise, twists and turns are placed to find weak links to the assessment or response to a situation which may tax the responders. A chemical leak leads to a speculation that it could be terrorist-related.
Security responds to an area where a tank or line has been breached. Gunfire was heard in the area moments before. Security personnel who responded to the area cannot be contacted and the scenario expands. Emergency responders go to the area of Lower River Road and find a large cloud of suspected chlorine gas. Foggy conditions as well make it difficult to determine the exact location of the leak.
Monitoring systems indicated a loss of pressure. On-site Olin Emergency Response teams made initial assessments and local responders joined forces under Incident Command guidelines to gain control of the incident.
Regardless of what caused the mock leak situation, the drill was successful.
Spence said he was well pleased at the response and reaction of the players in the exercise.