The worst of the Blue Grass Army Depot’s “accident” missed Clark County.
In the annual CSEPP (Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program) exercise, the plume of chemical smoke headed south from Richmond, affecting two zones in Madison¿County.
While this made the exercise somewhat easier for Clark County emergency personnel, Clark¿County Emergency Management Director Gary Epperson said, the Clark County crews were still hard at work.
The army depot is a storage facility for conventional munitions and chemical weapons.
Most residents of Madison County are encouraged to “shelter in place,” which means they remain in their homes until the plume of hazardous and contaminated air passes.
A well-insulated house is enough to protect its inhabitants, though it is necessary to circulate the air every few hours. Still, some people will spontaneously evacuate, Epperson said.
“We have to be ready to support Madison County and their residents,” he said.
In the exercise, a decontamination center was set up and around 10 evacuees showed up there. About 30 arrived at the hospital’s shelter.
The emergency operation center was staffed by personnel from public works, the county road department, city police, the sheriff’s office, the health department, Red Cross, the county fire department, the city fire department, the county judge-executive’s office, the mayor’s office and county public schools. The Pioneer Amateur Radio Club RACES also took part.
“We had a lot of players in the EOC,” Epperson said. “Emergency management, we coordinate and manage the EOC, but we all work as a team.”
While the CSEPP exercise is the big one each year for local emergency teams, they also conduct smaller scale exercises each quarter. Those don’t include field exercises, though.
The army depot represents a real threat, but Epperson said a far worst scenario for Clark County would be spilled hazardous materials being transported by rail or road through the county. County residents should be prepared for that and information on how to can be found at clarkema.com.
Contact Casey Castle at email@example.com.