Final Emergency Drill for Dangerous ChemicalPosted: Updated:
RICHLAND, Wash. -- At the Benton County Emergency Management Services building, workers try to control a chemical disaster from reaching nearby neighborhoods.
It's just the kind of exercise Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP) workers have practiced for more than 20 years, all to be prepared just in case chemicals leaked.
"The only thing we have now is mustard chemical agent. It doesn't kill instantly but it would have long term affects if it ever got off post. We want to assure their safety through these types of exercises," says Jim Hackett of the Umatilla Chemical Depot.
Tuesday's exercise is based on the scenario that a truck carrying HD mustard chemical agent crashes creating a ploom of dust from the chemical spreading across several counties.
These may be exercises, but they treat them as if they were real, "it helps us in coordinating any kind of emergency because we're forced to test all of our technology, our communications, and so forth. And meet people we might deal with in a real emergency, it makes things go a lot better," explains Bob Spencer of Benton County Emergency Management.
In the first week of April, 72 tons of the agent have been destroyed. While this may be the last exercise, Jim Hackett says it's leaving a legacy on the people who took part in it, "There's been a lot of first responders that have been prepared over the years. Firefighters and police departments."
Hackett says the 1,200 people working with chemical weapons will continue to be employed until the end of year.
Hackett adds that a local reuse agency is looking into future use of depot.