Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Explosions Rock Refinery In California
EDM Wednesday Briefing: Explosions Rock Refinery In California

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Explosions Rock Refinery In California


Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 26, 2020: Two explosions and a massive fire at a refinery in California briefly closed the 405 in both directions Tuesday night; the search for a man and two teenage boys who went missing on a lake in Tennessee during a fishing tournament continues; many high-hazard dams in the Bay Area lack emergency actions plans for downstream, at-risk populations; Honolulu reveals plans to build a new $39 million EOC; the Roswell 911 Center has developed contingency plans for an easily deployed, temporary 911 center if their facility is evacuated or compromised; first responders across the nation now have a resource available to assist them and their families with behavioral health issues; the United Nations warns that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is ill-equipped to handle an invasion of swarms of locusts that could devastate food sources in the already fragile nation; and several more countries in Europe now have confirmed cases of COVID-19.

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1) Two explosions rocked an oil refinery just south of Los Angeles, California, on Tuesday night, sparking a fire and shutting down Interstate 405 in both directions for a brief time. Firefighters from the Los Angeles County Fire Department were trying to contain the massive fire that occurred at the Marathon Refinery Carson, which they believe was being fueled by light hydrocarbon fuels. The fire is believed to have started in or near a cooling tower, with all personnel accounted for and no injuries reported.

2) The search continues for a 43-year-old man and two 15-year-olds who went missing at Pickwick Lake on the Tennessee River on Saturday during a weekend fishing tournament. The individuals were not reported missing until Sunday night, and dangerous water conditions prompted search and rescue teams to call off their rescue efforts Monday evening. Their boat was found Monday morning near Pickwick Dam, close to where the southwest corner of Tennessee meets Mississippi and Alabama. Officials said anyone wanting to volunteer to assist with the search needs to ensure they are experienced boaters, due to dangerous water conditions.

3) Emergency action plans are lacking for many of the San Francisco area high-hazard dams. Reportedly, at least 47 of the area's 145 high-hazard dams, the majority of which were built before 1960, lack emergency plans and procedures for warning residents downstream of a breach or dam failure that could reduce the loss of life. A new law enacted after the Oroville Dam incident in 2017 required state-regulated dams to submit emergency action plans. However, only 22 of the 650 state regulated and high-hazard dams have plans in place.

4) Aging infrastructure and stopgap measures to renovate an inadequate facility has prompted the city of Honolulu to build a new Emergency Operations Center. The new $39 million building is slated to be a four-story facility that will be built next to the new Joint Traffic Management Center and Alapai Transit Center. One of the primary criteria when building the facility is its ability to withstand major disasters, including any of the natural hazards that impact the area. Construction of the facility is set to begin in late 2022 with a targeted completion date of early 2024.

5) Any time a person calls 911, they expect their call to be answered. But if a 911 center is compromised, damaged or needs to be evacuated, that may not happen. The Roswell 911 center in Roswell, Georgia, has implemented a plan, one that includes a portable backup system that can quickly be deployed if the center is evacuated or compromised in any way. The facility has a backup 911 phone system, which includes a system that can forward 911 calls to city phones connected to a portable router with embedded long-term evolution (LTE), along with a cloud-based platform that allows the center to deploy, configure, and manage the network remotely.

6) An estimated 30 percent of first responders are likely to develop some type of behavioral health condition, according to information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Resources to help first responders process difficult emergency calls and scenes are critical to ensuring mental and behavioral health. First responders across the nation now have an online resource, ResponderStrong, available to assist them and their families. ResponderStrong can be accessed by either going online or by simply texting "BADGE" to 741741.

7) For the first time since 1944, a small group of desert locusts have entered the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). According to the United Nations, that insect invasion could be devastating for the nation. The U.N. warned that Congo is ill-equipped to handle a swarm of these insects in light of its ongoing battle with Ebola, complex conflict, a measles outbreak, high levels of displacement, and chronic food insecurity. The U.N. is asking for assistance in combating the outbreak. In the worst invasion of locusts in 70 years, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda have already been battling the insects for weeks. The same insects have also migrated to Djibouti, Eritrea, Tanzania, and most recently, to South Sudan.

8) More cases of the coronavirus have been reported in several more countries in Europe, including Austria, Croatia and Switzerland. According to reports, health officials believe that the cases are directly related to the outbreak in Italy. Brazil also had its first positive test of the virus in a resident who returned from a visit to Italy. Globally, the number of cases of the virus has risen to more than 80,000, and new infections in mainland China, where the virus originated, are now steadily decreasing. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that the virus could bring a severe disruption to the United States. Government officials called on nations to be honest about the outbreaks in their nation to help prevent further spread.


Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.