Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Chemical Plant Fire Kills One and Critically Injures Two in Texas
EDM Wednesday Briefing: Chemical Plant Fire Kills One and Critically Injures Two in Texas

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Chemical Plant Fire Kills One and Critically Injures Two in Texas

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for April 3, 2019: A kindergarten teacher has been arrested in China on suspicion of poisoning 23 children; a crane that collapsed onto a cruise ship in the Bahamas injured eight people; the U.S. Coast Guard has suspended the search for survivors from the migrant ship that capsized off Turks and Caicos; a new report points to Russian GPS spoofing that sends ships off-course and highlights the potential risk to maritime navigational safety; after a dry winter and unseasonably warm temperatures, Portugal is increasing its wildfire preparedness efforts; an explosion and fire at the KMCO chemical plant near Houston kills one and critically injures two others; more than two years after its collapse, construction is complete and the Orville Dam spillway is back in operation; and police in North Dakota are tight-lipped regarding their investigation into a quadruple homicide.

1) A kindergarten teacher was arrested in China on suspicion of poisoning 23 children when they fell ill after eating. The children became sick after eating breakfast at school, a meal which authorities believe was tainted with sodium nitrite, the overexposure to which is toxic -- and can be fatal. The children were taken to the hospital and 15 of them have been released, but police have not made clear the motive for the poisoning.

2) A crane collapse on a cruise ship in the Bahamas injured eight people and damaged the dock structure. According to reports, a construction crane collapsed and fell onto Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas ship while it was in dry dock at the Great Bahamas Shipyard. The eight people who were injured suffered non-life-threatening injuries, and Royal Caribbean is assessing damages to the mega-ship, which cost a whopping $1.5 billion to build.

3) The search for additional survivors of a migrant boat from Haiti that capsized in shark-infested waters off Turks and Caicos has been suspended. A total of at least 15 people died when the small boat capsized off West Caicos, an uninhabited island in the Turks and Caicos archipelago, although it is unclear just how many people were on the boat. The U.S. Coast called off the search for survivors late Sunday, with four people still unaccounted for, while 14 others were rescued.

4) A new report suggests that Russia is using technology to create false GPS (global positioning system) signals to send ships off-course and hide the location of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. The report, from the Center for Advanced Defense (C4ADS), which used publicly available data that spanned 12 months, found that at least 1,311 commercial ships in and around Russia were victims of GPS spoofing, sending them off course. A total of at least 7,910 vessels outside of Russian territorial waters were also spoofed, according to the report's findings, highlighting the potential risk to maritime navigational safety.

5) Portugal is preparing for a potentially difficult and demanding wildfire season after an exceptionally dry winter and weeks of unseasonable high temperatures. The nation, which reportedly has poor forest management, saw a record number of fires in 2018. Efforts to increase its response has led to the addition of at least 800 personnel, including firefighters, staff, soldiers and police. The increased firefighting capacity will be supported by almost 2,500 vehicles and up to 60 planes and helicopters.

6) A fire at the KMCO chemical plant in Crosby, Texas -- near Houston -- has left one person dead and two people critically injured. The fire, which erupted Tuesday morning, prompted several school districts to shelter-in-place, and a shelter-in-place was also issued for residents within a one-mile radius of the fire. The fire began after an explosion occurred not far from the control room; firefighter efforts to control and put out the fire lasted until late Tuesday afternoon.

7) More than two years after its collapse in 2017, the new spillway has been completed and is in operation at the nation's tallest dam. Repairs to the Orville Dam's spillway occurred after its near collapse, an evacuation order that affected nearly 200,000 people, and a cost of $1.1 billion. According to an independent report, the crisis can be attributed to long-term, systemic failures. An independent panel of dam safety experts issued the report in January of 2018 and attributed the crisis to inherent construction and design flaws of the dam that were not recognized by dam managers and regulators, eventually leading to the failure of the spillway and the rapid erosion and thus failure of the emergency earthen spillway.

8) Police are investigating a mysterious quadruple homicide in North Dakota at a property management company. Three men and one woman were found dead inside a business in the Bismarck area on Monday when police responded to a medical call around 7:30 a.m. at the RJR Maintenance and Management building in Mandan. Law enforcement has confirmed the identities of the bodies and did confirm that the suspect remains at-large, but remains tight-lipped about any other details regarding what they say is a large and unusual crime scene.

 

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.