Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Economic Losses Mounting from Houston Ship Channel Closure
EDM Wednesday Briefing: Economic Losses Mounting from Houston Ship Channel Closure

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Economic Losses Mounting from Houston Ship Channel Closure

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for March 27, 2019: California avocados are being recalled due to possible Listeria contamination; the EPA is evaluating two SuperFund sites in Missouri and Nebraska following the Midwest flooding; a county in New York state has declared an emergency due to a measles outbreak; evacuations at six German town halls across the nation were prompted due to bomb threats; the Houston Ship Channel closure is likely to cost at least $1 billion in direct and indirect economic losses; North County Smokehouse issued a recall for 2,686 pounds of ready-to-eat kielbasa sausage due to foreign matter contamination; the recent bomb cyclone was the strongest storm ever recorded in Colorado; and Amtrak is urging citizens to approach train crossings with caution after four fatalities in less than a week occurred across the country.

1) Avocados grown in California are being voluntarily recalled by a company due to the possible contamination of the product by Listeria. The Henry Avocado Corporation recalled the avocados after environmental samples taken tested positive for listeria monocytogenes, which prompted the company to issue the recall out of an abundance of caution. Both conventional and organic avocados are involved in the recall, which were shipped to retail locations in Arizona, California, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

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2) Two Superfund sites are under evaluation and monitoring for the release of hazardous contaminants by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after the recent floods in the Midwest. The EPA is evaluating the Nebraska Ordnance Plant in Mead, following a two-day shutdown of the groundwater treatment plant and extraction wells after floodwaters rendered portions of the site temporarily inaccessible. Monitoring is also being conducted by the EPA after floodwaters from the nearby Missouri River partially flooded the Conservation Chemical Corporation in Kansas City, Missouri, prompting the facility to increase the pumping rate of its groundwater treatment system.

3) A state of emergency has been declared by a county in New York state due to the high number of community members that have contracted the measles. At least 153 people have been sickened by the measles in Rockland County so far this year, prompting the declaration, which bans unvaccinated minors from public places for 30 days or until the minor is vaccinated. The county is offering free MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccinations at several locations, and officials are encouraging residents to prevent further spread of the disease by getting vaccinated.

4) Evacuations were conducted at several town halls in Germany on Tuesday following the receipt of bomb threats that were emailed to city officials overnight. The emails were received by officials in Augsburg, Chemnitz, Göttingen, Kaiserslautern, Neunkirchen and Rendsburg, and a thorough search of the buildings was conducted by police and sniffer dogs. After a thorough search, no suspicious devices or items were found to exist at any of the locations. An investigation into the threats is being coordinated among officials from each location.

5) Texas refineries have cut production at their facilities after a chemical fire and spill shut down a portion of the Houston Ship Channel for three days, and ship movement continues to remain slow and limited. Industry experts note that the shutdown is likely to cost an estimated $500 million in direct costs due to delayed shipments and lost supply chain materials, while another $500 million in indirect costs will likely be lost through the worldwide rerouting and cancellation of shipments and vessel traffic. A few ships were being permitted to move through the Channel as of Monday, but they had to be decontaminated, which slowed their movement and increased the backlog of vessels trying to navigate the Channel.

6) Over 2,680 pounds of ready-to-eat kielbasa sausage produced by North County Smokehouse is being recalled due to foreign matter contamination. The company, which is based in Claremont, New Hampshire, issued the recall on Saturday, noting that the vacuum-packed sausages could contain metal, were produced on February 7 and 8, and include three different types -- with "use by" dates of April 23 and May 9. The items were shipped to retail locations nationwide, and officials are urging consumers to throw away the product or return it to the place of purchase.

7) The bomb cyclone that impacted Colorado earlier this month was the strongest storm the state has ever recorded. A barometric pressure reading of 970.4 millibars made it the lowest-ever recorded central pressure reading in the state, a reading that equals the storm to a Category 2 hurricane in terms of central pressure. The storm also produced the strongest gust of wind ever recorded at Colorado Springs Airport -- 96 mph -- which shatters the 2017 record of 80 mph. The Colorado Climate Center also noted that daily precipitation records were also set -- 44 of them -- in various locations throughout the state.

8) Amtrak is urging residents across the nation to exercise caution when approaching railroad crossings and tracks after four fatalities that have occurred over the past week. The most recent fatality occurred Tuesday in rural Columbia County in New York, where a pedestrian was struck by an Amtrak train that was traveling from Manhattan to Albany. The other fatalities occurred in Bellingham, Washington; Bowie, Maryland; and Springfield, Massachusetts. Officials are encouraging citizens to learn about Operation Lifesaver -- a program designed to communicate the dangers of grade crossings -- a program Amtrak strongly supports.

 

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.