EDM Wednesday Briefing: Cascadia Rising, TSA, Oil Train Disaster, Carbon Offsets, EgyptAir Bomb Threat
Emergency and disaster management briefing for June 8, 2016: The Cascadia Rising training exercise enters its second day, a GAO report highlights TSA shortcomings, more oil is found from the Oregon train derailment, carbon offsets help neutralize carbon emissions, Kalamazoo suffers another mass-casualty incident, police and protestors clash in Papua New Guinea, EgyptAir is forced to land in Uzbekistan after a bomb threat, the FBI is under scrutiny, the Toxic Substances Control Act receives an overhaul, and two military jets collide over Georgia.
- On Tuesday, FEMA began a combined multi-level government, tribal, and private sector training exercise to test response to a major earthquake and resulting tsunami in the Pacific Northwest. Named Cascadia Rising, the exercise includes the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and the Province of British Columbia in Canada. The exercise is expected to involve more than 20,000 people, runs for a total of four days, and will help train organizations using the whole community approach to foster teamwork.
- A 2016 report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicated that recent assessments conducted by the TSA do not adequately reflect relevant data on current risks. Additionally, the GAO found that the TSA does not engage airport stakeholders, including airport operators or airlines, in information sharing to help assess and deter those risks with best practices. The report was prompted by concerns over security threats that occurred at two different airports in 2014.
- Mosier, OR has been busy cleaning up spilled crude oil from a 16-car oil train derailment. On Monday mid-morning, officials turned their attention to oil that had been recently found in a vault connected to a pipe that led from the waste water treatment plant in Mosier to the Columbia River. So far, the design of the pipeline has prevented the oil from reaching the river. The massive derailment is said to have been caused in part by the failure of a rail fastener, which Union Pacific has now repaired. Trains have begun moving through the area again, some just a few feet from the wreckage. City and state officials are asking the railroad to temporarily halt crude oil shipments through the Gorge until more definitive answers are found regarding why the train crashed.
- If an individual has lowered his/her carbon footprint as much as possible, but still wants to strive for being carbon neutral (or live without adding to current greenhouse gas levels), a growing trend has been to purchase carbon offsets. A good example is airline travel. Current aircraft technology has high emissions, so when purchasing a ticket, airlines offer the traveler an option to help neutralize these emissions by buying carbon offsets. Purchasing carbon offsets should be done carefully, with thoughtful consideration of the associated project. One organization, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) offers some suggestions on how to be sure purchasers are really getting what they are buying when they purchase carbon offsets.
- Kalamazoo, Michigan suffered another mass-casualty incident on Monday when a pickup truck crashed into a group of bicyclists, killing five people and injured four people, some critically. Calls regarding a reckless driver in a truck were received as much as thirty minutes prior to the incident. This follows on the heels of a mass-shooting that occurred in February which left six people dead after an Uber driver went on a shooting spree.
- Protests turned violent in Papua New Guinea on Monday when police allegedly opened fire on students protesting against the government in an attempted march to Parliament. Reports are conflicting regarding the number of students shot, the seriousness of their injuries, and if anyone has died.
- An EgyptAir flight en route to Beijing from Cairo was forced to land in Uzbekistan due to bomb threat delivered anonymously via phone to Cairo security agents. The threat was later deemed to be false. After landing the Airbus A330-220, all 118 passengers and 17 crew members on board were evacuated safely, a thorough search was made of the plane by Uzbek authorities and it continued on to its destination about four hours later. Just last month, an EgyptAir flight en route to Cairo from Paris disappeared off radar over the Mediterranean Sea after having presumably crashed into the water. Officials are still working to recover the wreckage, and although no cause has been determined, terrorism is suspected.
- FBI has stepped up its use of undercover operations to help fight terrorism across the United States, according to a recent report. Citing the rise of social media and its anonymity factor, the agency indicated that these stings are critical to gathering evidence and helping to deter possible terrorist attacks in the U.S. A recent report reveals concerns that the FBI might actually be creating terrorism cases with its aggressive operations, but according to the report, court records show that the cases using these methods have been upheld.
- The Senate has approved an overhaul of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act that allows the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to gather more information about a chemical before the agency approves its use. The newly overhauled law also limits testing of chemicals on animals, provides chemical manufacturers with a more uniform regulatory system, and allows the EPA to order companies to test their new products. The new legislation will also help the EPA gather better information faster through the modernization of toxicity testing. Currently, restricted by the old law, only 200 of the thousands of chemicals in use across the United States have been tested by the EPA, with only five being issued regulatory controls.
- During "routine night flying operations," two South Carolina Air National Guard F-16s collided and crashed Tuesday evening. The jets were in a military operating area over Jefferson County, Georgia when the incident occurred. Both pilots ejected to safety and a detailed safety investigation will be conducted by the United States Air Force.