EDM Wednesday Briefing: California Fires, Heat Wave, Diablo Canyon, Frozen Food Recall, Refugees
Emergency and disaster management briefing for June 22, 2016: California's San Gabriel Complex fire is only 10 percent contained, red flag warnings and excessive heat continue across the Southwest, Diablo Canyon is set to close, and a report shows the highest ever number of displaced persons in the world.
- Almost 1,000 California residents fled from their homes on Tuesday as rapidly moving fires threatened suburban neighborhoods. Officials stated that the first fire, the Reservoir fire, was ignited near Azusa from a fatal car crashat around 11 a.m. on Monday and caused over 300 homes to be evacuated. The fire rapidly grew to more than 2,400 acres. The Fish fire began about an hour later, threatening hundreds of homes and forcing evacuations while firefighters worked hard to extinguish the blaze before it reached the structures.
- Extreme temperatures earlier in the week, along with erratic winds are helping to fuel the fires that are moving fast and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents. Crews and helicopters worked diligently to keep the two fires from merging, and authorities are now referring to the fire as the San Gabriel Complex Fire. Recent updates on Inciweb indicate that the fire is now at 4900 acres, is only 10 percent contained, and has approximately 1040 individuals fighting the fire with a variety of methods, including helicopters, hand crews, and bull dozers.
- Red flag and excessive heat warnings remain in effect for California and much of the Southwest today in the midst of a blistering heat wave that is further drying out an already parched area. On Tuesday, extreme temperatures left thousands of Southern California residents without power, where record demands on the power grid have occurred. Demands were peaking at 50 percent higher than a normal June day, and were noted as being the highest demands recorded since June of 2008. The natural gas storage moratorium due to the Aliso Canyon leak earlier this year has resulted in its limited supply, forcing the Department of Water and Power to get a waiver for the use of diesel fuel to bolster power.
- California's last operating nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, in San Luis Obispo County near Avila Beach, is set to close. The announcement came Tuesday from the Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the plants owner, who recently met with longtime adversaries Friends of the Earth environmental group, to reach a deal to begin producing cleaner energy in order to meet California's 2030 mandate of 50 percent clean electrical production. The shut down of the plant will occur within the next decade, once its operating licenses expire in November of 2024 and August of 2025.
- Concerns have grown over the production of nuclear power in areas prone to earthquakes after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. The San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, situated just south of San Clemente, California, was closed in 2013 after a radioactive steam release occurred due to faulty equipment from a failed steam generator replacement. That left Diablo Canyon as the last operational nuclear power plant in the state. Diablo Canyon lies just three miles east of the Hosgri Fault, which was discovered three years after construction began on the plant. Other faults also exist near the plant, the San Andreas Fault about 45 miles away, and another fault recently found in 2008 that is just 2,000 feet away from the Diablo Canyon's two operating reactors. Officials agree that seismic risks still remain until the plant is no longer in operation.
- Another food recall is being issued over possible concerns of Listeria. Seattle-based National Frozen Food Corp. has issued a voluntary recall of frozen peas and frozen mixed vegetables due to concerns over possible Listeria contamination. A limited quantity of frozen green peas and frozen mixed vegetables may be potentially be contaminated with Listeria, so National Frozen Food Corp. made the voluntary recall to ensure the safety of its customers. While there have not been any reports of illness related to the products prior to the recall, Listeria is a serious threat that can even become deadly.
- This frozen food recall comes at the same time the Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a scathing report that called out the FDA for being too slow to order companies to recall tainted foods. According to the OIG, the FDA’s slowness in making food recalls is leading to an increased risk of illness and death across the country.
- A report recently issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) found that 65.3 million people were displaced around the world in 2015. This is the first time the number has ever surpassed the 60 million mark, and the number is significantly higher -- a jump of 5.8 million -- than the 2014 total, which was 59.5 million. Approximately half of the refugees are children under the age of 18, with the number of unaccompanied minors at an all time high level. Worldwide, developing nations hosted majority of the refugees -- a whopping 86 percent. The growing refugee crisis is likely to get worse in the face of climate change, as water and food scarcity force individuals to flee in order to find these basic needs and devolve nations into conflict. The goal of the UNHCR with any refugee is to offer them international protection and help them find stability and rebuild their lives.