Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: A Chemical Spill Critically Injures at Least Seven People, Including Firefighters
EDM Friday Briefing: A Chemical Spill Critically Injures at Least Seven People, Including Firefighters

EDM Friday Briefing: A Chemical Spill Critically Injures at Least Seven People, Including Firefighters


Emergency and disaster management briefing for April 26, 2019: An anhydrous ammonia spill and chemical plume injures 40, including firefighters; Sri Lankan officials have reduced the number of deaths in the Easter Sunday suicide bombings by about 100; severe weather killed five people in Texas and Louisiana and prompted at least two tornadoes; rising waters in the Ottawa River prompted additional evacuations in Central Canada as Quebec officials warn residents of a possible dam failure at Bells Falls; just six weeks after Cyclone Idai caused widespread devastation, Cyclone Kenneth -- equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane -- slammed into northern Mozambique on Thursday; the death toll in the South African flooding and mudslides has risen to 70 as rescuers continue their search for additional victims; another 53,000 pounds of ground beef has been recalled amid the ongoing E. coli investigation; and a measles outbreak has prompted quarantine orders at two California universities.

1) Thirty-seven people were taken to area hospitals, seven of whom are in critical condition, including firefighters and first responders, following exposure to anhydrous ammonia in Beach Park, Illinois, on Thursday. A tractor was towing two two-ton tanks of the chemical when one of the tanks began to leak and created a chemical cloud. The chemical spill prompted a Level 5 Hazmat response, and a shelter-in-place was issued for a one-mile radius.

2) The number of dead in the attacks on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka has been reduced to between 250-260, instead of 359, as was previously reported by the country's health ministry. Authorities are blaming the miscount on the difficulty in identifying bodies and a miscalculation. The approximate 253 people were killed when suicide bombers attacked hotels and churches in Colombo, Negombo, and the eastern city of Batticaloa -- attacks that also injured hundreds of people.

3) Severe weather, which impacted Texas and Louisiana Wednesday and lasted into the evening, is being blamed for the deaths of five people, three in Texas and two in Louisiana. An EF-2 tornado with winds of about 120 mph touched down in Bryan, Texas and sent debris flying through the air. Heavy rainfall prompted flash flooding that killed one person when the vehicle was swept away. Severe weather across the state produced an EF-3 tornado that tore through a college town in Ruston, Louisiana overnight Wednesday into Thursday. The storm killed two people, caused significant damage and prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency for all of Louisiana.

4) Rising water levels in the Ottawa River are prompting additional evacuations throughout the city of Ottawa, the capital of Canada. The mayor of Ottawa has declared a state of emergency ahead of forecasted rain on Friday, asking for assistance from the Ontario provincial government and the nation's military. Flooding in the province of Quebec has already killed one person and forced 900 people from their homes. Government officials warned that a hydroelectric dam at Bells Falls is at risk of failure because the dam is already at full capacity.

5) One person is dead and a trail of destruction was left in northern Mozambique after Cyclone Kenneth -- a major storm with wind gusts of up to 174 mph and a strong storm surge of 16.4 feet -- made landfall Thursday night. The storm struck the nation just six weeks after Cyclone Idai caused widespread devastation and destruction across the impoverished nation. Officials noted that on the island of Ibo, 90 percent of the homes were destroyed by Cyclone Kenneth in the main town. Current forecasts call for additional heavy rains, which could cause further destruction and devastation throughout the region.

6) Torrential rainfall has led to widespread flooding and mudslides in South Africa, which have killed more than 70 people across the KwaZulu-Patal and Eastern Cape provinces. More than three inches of rain fell across the region in under 24 hours, which prompted flooding and sent torrents of mud down hillsides, destroying roadways and infrastructure. Government officials noted that the mudslides occurred in heavily populated areas, leading to the higher death toll.

7) More ground beef is being recalled -- for a total of more than 82 tons -- in light of the recent multi-state E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least 156 people across 10 states -- including 20 people that were hospitalized due to the illness. Grant Park Packing, based in Franklin, Illinois, has recalled 53,200 pounds (more than 26 tons) of ground beef that may be contaminated with the E. coli bacteria. K2D foods recalled over 113,000 pounds earlier in the week, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that while no definitive link has been established, the ongoing investigation prompted collection and testing of the meat at facilities where diners had been sickened.

8) A measles outbreak in California has prompted quarantine orders at two universities for exposed individuals, including students and faculty. At the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 119 students and eight faculty members have been quarantined by public health officials until their immunity to the disease can be established. A total of 71 students and 127 staff members at California State University, Los Angeles -- who were at or working in the campus library between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on April 11th -- were potentially exposed to the measles. They were ordered home under quarantine and told to avoid contact with others until immunity is established.


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.