Saturday, April 5, 2008

Chemical Emergency Exercise to take Place at Expo

What’s being billed as the “first Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standard (CFATS) exercise in Arizona” will be taking place later this month at a software conference in Phoenix, AZ. The ESS EXPO.08 is being sponsored by ESS, a supplier of EH&S and Crisis Management Software.


As noted in the Expo news release the CFATS regulations {Section 27.230} requires that high-risk chemical facilities conduct periodic drills and exercises to practice and evaluate their response plans for potential terrorist attacks. This exercise, Green Scorpion, will take place at a city training site in Chandler, AZ. Expo attendees will have the choice of attending the exercise in person or watching it at a simulated Emergency Operations Center (EOC) back at the Expo.


While the City of Chandler emergency services are getting an elaborate training exercise out of this, the ‘emergency’ exercise is certainly more about selling Crisis Management software and exercise management services. As the press release says:


“Providing a multi-hazard scenario will demonstrate why public and private organizations need a comprehensive emergency response strategy and the latest integrated information management tools.” (italics added)


DHS is supposed to have personnel at the Expo to “discuss the importance of public/private partnerships”. This is part of the Department’s chemical security outreach program. They are trying to insure those chemical facilities and local authorities coordinate their security and emergency response planning for dealing with potential terrorist attacks at high-risk chemical facilities.


With “a 60-foot car explosion, terrorists,(and) multiple bombs” I doubt that this type of high-profile, very expensive ‘exercise’ would ever be conducted at a working chemical facility; plant mangers are not very fond of explosions at their facilities. This is more of an advertising event than an exercise. But, if DHS can use exercises of this sort to draw attention to the need for multi-party exercises and drills, then it will perform a useful function.

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