Monday, February 9, 2009

Wisconsin Ignores Chemical Threat

There is an interesting blog posting over on (HSDL - Homeland Security Digital Library). Ijkaijan briefly reports on a draft copy of the Wisconsin Homeland Security Strategy that was published last week. It outlines Wisconsin’s “direction for our prevention, protection, response, and recovery efforts for the next three years (2009-2011)” (pg 4). It is an ‘all hazards’ document looking at the potential effects of storms, terrorism, even mass evacuations of neighboring Chicago or Minneapolis/St Paul. No Chemical Facility Response What is of great concern to me is that it makes no mention of responses to accidents or attacks at chemical facilities within the State. Now, Wisconsin does not have a facility that made the Top 101 list on last year’s Center for American Progress’ Chemical Security 101 report, but it did have two facilities (the Murphy Oil refinery in Superior, and the Hydrite Chemical plant in Oshkosh) that made the Appendix B list (‘List of 202 additional facilities’) in that report. A major release at either of those two facilities could affect more than 100,000 individuals. There will certainly be other high-risk chemical facilities located in the State. The large agricultural industry located in the State means that there will be a significant number of facilities storing anhydrous ammonia. Water treatment plants mean that there will be chlorine storage and transportation sites. Emergency Response While high-risk chemical facilities are largely responsible for their own security, the State and local governments will be stuck with the large part of the emergency response efforts for major accidents or terrorist attacks on these facilities. I would have thought that it would be appropriate for an ‘all hazards’ strategy to provide at least as much attention to the planning effort for this as it does for emergency snow removal (admittedly more of a problem in Wisconsin than here in Alabama).

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