Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: New Battery Rules Unveiled for Air Carriers
EDM Friday Briefing: New Battery Rules Unveiled for Air Carriers

EDM Friday Briefing: New Battery Rules Unveiled for Air Carriers

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By Kim Arsenault
Contributor, EDM Digest

Emergency and disaster management briefing for March 1, 2019: Residents return home after flooding swamps 2,000 buildings in Northern California wine country; airlines around the world scramble to reroute flights as a new notice shows Pakistani airspace is now closed through March 4; a double amputee veteran opens fire and shoots two at the VA medical center in Palm Beach, Florida; an environmental disaster is unfolding in the Solomon Islands as a ship continues to leak oil nearly a month after it ran aground; another recall has been issued for blood pressure medicine that was made aboard and distributed in the U.S.; a Southwest Airlines plane scraped a wing during an aborted landing in Connecticut; public health officials in Illinois warn of measles exposure at Midway Airport and Delnor Hospital; and PHMSA has unveiled new rules for air carriers regarding the carrying of lithium-ion batteries as cargo.

1. Residents in Northern California are surveying the damage after floodwaters inundated towns along the Russian River. Twenty inches of rain was measured by the local National Weather Service (NWS) station in Sonoma County and emergency management officials believe that most residents will be able to return home Friday. The Russian River crested at 46 feet Wednesday night, the river's highest level in 25 years, flooding at least 2,000 buildings after an atmospheric river dumped heavy rains across the area for two days.

2. Commercial airlines around the world had to cancel and reroute flights, snarling international air traffic, after Pakistani airspace was closed following an incident involving Indian military jets. U.S. airlines were forced to cancel several flights to India and Asian airlines left thousands of passengers stranded as they cancelled hundreds of flights, with Thai Airlines and the Bangkok Airport being the most heavily affected. New reports indicate that the airspace will be closed until at least March 4, further snarling air traffic. The rerouting of flights adds additional fuel costs and lengthens flight times to routes still flown, especially for destinations between Europe and Asia.

3. A man opened fire in a VA medical center in Florida Wednesday night, shooting a doctor in the neck and another employee in the buttocks. The man, Larry Ray Bon, 59, a double amputee veteran, arrived at the VA Medical Center Riviera Beach around 6:30 p.m. to see his primary doctor, but was transferred to the emergency room for mental health assistance. Bon opened fire and then entered another room, where the doctor and another hospital employee were shot when the doctor attempted to disarm the man.

4. A ship is leaking tons of oil near the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean, near a World Heritage site, after the ship ran aground on February 4.  There has been a slow response to salvage operations. The MV Solomon Trader was loading bauxite when rough seas pushed it aground in Kangava Bay, Rennell Island, near the raised coral atoll that has been deemed an UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its delicate ecosystem. Salvage operations have been delayed due to rough seas and a Category 2 cyclone, Oma. The ship -- which holds at least another 660 tons of oil -- continues to leak and threatens the fragile environment.

5. Blood pressure medicine made abroad in India has been recalled due to contamination by a carcinogen. Eighty-seven lots of losartan were recalled by Camber Pharmaceuticals, Inc., on Thursday, when the company discovered that the medicine contained trace amounts of a potential carcinogen. The medication was distributed to retail and mail-order pharmacies, along with wholesalers and distributors, and is the second recall of losartan in a week.

6. A Southwest Airlines aircraft sustained damage when it scraped a wing during an aborted landing in Hartford on Monday, February 25. Flight 2169, a Boeing 737-700, from Orlando International Airport was carrying 143 passengers and five crew members when it encountered strong winds while attempting to land in Hartford, Connecticut. The landing was aborted, but not before the wing of the plane scraped the ground. The pilots attempted two more landings amid the wind turbulence in Hartford -- sickening many passengers -- before the plane diverted to an airport in Rhode Island.

7. Health officials in Illinois are warning that individuals may have been exposed to the measles at Chicago's Midway Airport and Delnor Hospital. According to public health officials, a resident diagnosed with the measles arrived at Concourse B on February 22 and anyone in the area from 9:00 p.m. until midnight was likely exposed. Additional people may also have been exposed to the virus on February 24 and 25, during several time periods, when the passenger sought medical care at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva.

8. New rules for air carriers regarding lithium-ion cells and batteries have been unveiled by the U.S. Transportation Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The new rules prohibit commercial passenger jets from carrying the lithium-ion cells and batteries as cargo and establish new rules for air cargo transportation. The rules come after a group of plane makers warned that fire suppression systems were not adequate enough to suppress fires ignited by the batteries. U. S. regulators also noted there were 39 incidents from 2010 to 2016 in air cargo, 13 of which involved lithium batteries, that would have been affected by the new rules.

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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.