Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Explosions Rock East Coast's Largest Refinery Complex
EDM Friday Briefing: Explosions Rock East Coast's Largest Refinery Complex

EDM Friday Briefing: Explosions Rock East Coast's Largest Refinery Complex


Emergency and disaster management briefing for June 21, 2019: Riviera Beach city council voted to pay hackers 600K in Bitcoin after a May cyberattack that has affected its 911 dispatch operations; two popular bottled water brands allegedly tested positive for high levels of arsenic; at least 21 cities in India are likely to run out of groundwater by 2020; Arkansas is offering free vaccinations to residents impacted by flooding; state emergency management officials in Tennessee are set to revamp support of county emergency planning efforts; several explosions rock the East Coast's largest refinery complex in Philadelphia; employees at five restaurants in South Carolina test positive for Hepatitis A; and the Woodbury wildfire prompts the evacuation of homes east of Phoenix, Arizona.

1. A cyberattack at a local government in Florida in May compromised data and affected the city's 911 dispatch operations. On Monday, Riviera Beach gave in to the demands of the hackers and it cost the city $600,000 in Bitcoin--with no guarantee the hackers will restore their data. The cyberattack--which occurred when an employee at the police department opened an email attachment that contained malware--sends a warning to local governments nationwide, many of whom remain largely unprepared for coming cyberattacks.

2. Popular brands of bottled water that are sold by Whole Foods and Keurig Dr Pepper, have been found to contain high levels of arsenic. The brands, Peñafiel and Starkey Water, allegedly contained nearly double the amount of legally permissible amounts of arsenic according to standards set by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines. The group which conducted the testing, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), a nonprofit, stated that their tests confirmed previous testing conducted by Consumer Reports.

3. Weakening monsoon seasons in South Asia have now led to a water crisis for several cities in India. According to reports, at least 21 cities in India are likely to run out of groundwater by 2020, including Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, and the capital, New Delhi. That equates to about 100 million people, and by 2030, about 40 percent of the nations population will not have access to drinking water if the current reduced rainfall trend continues.

4. Recent flooding in Arkansas has prompted state health officials to offer free Hepatitis A and tetanus vaccinations across the state for those impacted by floodwaters. Health officials stated that first responders and residents should be certain they are current on their tetanus shots, and if not, to visit a nearby health clinic for a free vaccination. Although not typically associated with flooding, the Hepatitis A vaccination is being offered due to a recent outbreak reported in northeast Arkansas.

5. State emergency management officials in Tennessee are restructuring the support offered to counties across the state for emergency planning efforts. A recent audit showed some counties, many of those who are under-funded and under-resourced, struggled or failed to submit updated plans by the required deadline. State lawmakers also pointed out that smaller, more rural counties usually do not have the expertise that larger counties have, although they noted that all 95 counties across the state did have plans, but degrees of quality varied.

6. A series of explosion rocked the East Coast's largest refinery complex in Philadelphia early Friday morning raining debris into nearby neighborhoods and prompting a three-alarm fire at the facility. The explosion resulted in four minor injuries, and although the fire is contained, fire officials said it is not under control, and around 120 firefighters were still working to cool the area around the fire to keep it from spreading. The incident occurred at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refinery Complex, a 153-year-old facility, at around 4:00 a.m., when three separate explosions occurred in a vat of butane.

7. Five restaurants are being highlighted as being responsible for the spread of a recent Hepatitis A outbreak. Health officials noted that restaurant employees in Aiken and Hilton Head had tested positive for Hepatitis A, however, other workers were found to be positive for the virus in Lexington County, North Augusta, and North Charleston. A statewide outbreak was declared in May and the restaurants where workers tested positive have been identified as Harbor Town Yacht Club (Hilton Head), Popeyes (Aiken), Teriyaki Japan (North Augusta), Wild Wing Cafe (Lexington County), and Zaxby's (North Charleston).

8. A large wildfire in Arizona prompted the evacuation of at least 250 homes east of Phoenix. The Woodbury fire is burning in the Tonto National Forest, about seven miles from homes in the area, and firefighters are struggling to control the fire amid high heat, low humidity, and gusty winds. The blaze has already scorched 65,920 acres (103 square miles) of the forest, and was only 40 percent contained as of Friday morning, with strong and gusty winds forecast over the weekend.


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.