Report on Eureka County
Hazardous Materials Emergency Response:


Requirements for Hazardous Materials Team
and Evacuation Planning



Prepared for the
Board of Eureka County Commissioners and the
Eureka County Yucca Mountain Information Office



April 2003

Impact Assessment Report Update


This Emergency Response Impact Assessment is an update to Eureka County's Impact Assessment Report. It studies the requirements and costs of providing a full time, professionally staffed regional emergency response facility in northern Eureka County to provide public health and safety emergency response in the event of an accident related to the proposed Carlin rail spur which would originate in Beowawe. The Report also addresses the required elements for shelter and evacuation planning as part of the description of the emergency planning process.
  – Prepared by Richard C. Moore, P.E., Laramie, WY


Executive Summary       Entire Report



Executive Summary

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has proposed a geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada for the permanent disposal of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high–level radioactive waste (HLW). DOE is currently considering several alternatives for transportation of SNF and HLW, including the construction of a rail line between the mainline of the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and Yucca Mountain. One option for the route for this proposed rail line is the Carlin Route. This route originates in Eureka County near Beowawe and passes through Crescent Valley. Construction of the proposed rail line through Eureka County would result in very significant increases in the quantities of hazardous materials shipped through the County.

Eureka County prepared an “Impact Assessment Report” on the impacts to the County resulting from the Yucca Mountain repository and its transportation. The County concluded that there are significant public health and safety issues to the County from this project which must be addressed. The County’s primary responsibility to its residents is to protect their health, safety, and welfare. The County currently does not have the capability to respond to a transportation accident involving SNF or HLW. If the Carlin rail line is constructed, the County must have a hazardous materials emergency response program. The County has proposed that a “strike force” be located at Beowawe and operated under the direction of the affected local governments to mitigate the health and safety risk (Eureka, 2001). The purpose of this report is to describe the mission, concept of operations, training, and equipment needed to develop this capability.

The health, safety and welfare of County residents is also dependent upon adequate sheltering and evacuation plans in the event of an incident resulting in the release of radioactive materials. This report, as part of the description of the emergency planning process, will also address sheltering and evacuation planning.

For almost any incident involving the release of hazardous materials, the County’s First Responders will be on their own during the initial stages of the response. Therefore, the County needs to develop and maintain a continuous preparedness program. The creation of a hazardous materials response team should be conducted through a comprehensive hazardous materials emergency planning process. This process should include a review of existing plans, a hazards analysis, a capability assessment, environmental modeling, development of a hazardous materials response plan, implementation of the plan, and testing the plan. Through this process, the County can develop accurate assessments of the amount and type of equipment needed, the human resources needed to implement the plan, and the training required for firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, and full–time County employees.

A hazards analysis should be completed that includes both hazardous materials located at fixed facilities within the County and the transportation of hazardous materials through the County by rail, truck and pipeline. With an accurate knowledge of present and future hazards most likely to be encountered, the Fire Departments can equip and train for these hazards. The County can also plan containment, sheltering, and evacuation strategies in advance for the most likely hazards.

A vulnerability analysis should be completed to provide an estimate of the vulnerable zone for each facility and transportation corridor identified in the hazards analysis step. A vulnerable zone is a geographic area around a facility or transportation corridor that has the potential of a release of hazardous materials at concentrations that would pose a threat to public health and safety if released though a spill. The estimated concentration is estimated based upon an estimated release, the rate of release, and the dispersion. Through environmental modeling, vulnerable zones can be estimated for all of the identified hazards in the County.

The County’s Geographic Information System (GIS) and other computer tools can be used for both hazardous materials response planning and during actual responses to releases. The GIS is ideally suited for maintaining an inventory of facilities where hazardous materials are used and for mapping transportation corridors. The GIS can also be used to maintain an inventory emergency response equipment and where the equipment is stored.

The estimation of vulnerable zones can be completed and maintained through the GIS and related models. The topographic layers developed for the GIS can be used for the topographic input into dispersion models. Demographic factors such as total population within a vulnerable zone and persons needing special services can be mapped with the GIS. The location of essential service facilities in relationship to the vulnerable areas can also be determined.

During an actual release, the system could be used to model the dispersion of the release, providing estimates of the vulnerable zone that might need evacuated. Evacuation routes and evacuation centers can be mapped, providing tools for the emergency responders working on the evacuation and information for potential evacuees. As evacuation of areas are completed, they can be noted within the system, providing emergency response personnel with data on areas where evacuation has been completed and areas where evacuation still needs to be conducted.

An assessment of existing capabilities should include industrial facility resources, transporter resources, community resources, State and Federal resources, and other resources through local mutual aid agreements. A detailed capability assessment has not been conducted for this report. A general overview of the existing capability is provided.

When the hazards analysis, capability assessment and response area modeling are completed, the County can then begin the process of developing a hazardous materials emergency response plan. The principal elements of the plan and issues that each element should address are described in this report.

An orderly evacuation in Eureka County will be very difficult due to the limitation of available resources. Decisions on whether or not to evacuate are incident specific and must be made at the time of the incident. The on–scene Incident Commander is responsible for making decisions regarding evacuation of a hazard area. Under Eureka County’s current Hazardous Materials Response Plan, the Sheriff’s Office is the Incident Commander until a hazardous materials qualified incident commander arrives on scene and accepts command. The Sheriff’s Office is responsible for evacuation operations. For populations in the hazard area, a decision must be made either to evacuate or to shelter in place. Shelter in place means to advise people to stay indoors in homes, schools, businesses, or public buildings. This report contains a description of the tasks involved in conducting an evacuation.

The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has established minimum requirements for training for emergency response personnel responding to an incident involving hazardous materials. These requirements are contained in 29 CFR 1910.120. For fire departments, these regulations establish specific training requirements for each level of response required when responding to a hazardous materials incident. The required training levels, available training programs and the concept of operations for a response to a hazardous materials incident are described in this report.

A list of recommended equipment for the hazardous materials response team is included in Appendix A. This list of equipment is based upon the draft “Hazardous Material Spill Incident Response Equipment List” developed by the State of Nevada, equipment currently used by other communities’ hazardous materials response teams, and the National Fire Protection Association. The estimated cost of obtaining the equipment listed is approximately $100,000, based upon the cost of outfitting hazardous materials teams in other communities of similar size. This is the startup cost only, and does not consider existing equipment that the County currently owns, or the cost of replacement equipment.

Eureka County has determined that they do not want volunteers to respond to a hazardous materials incident involving spent nuclear fuel or high–level radioactive waste. The County’s preferred approach is to have full–time personnel respond. Two options are available to the County to meet this objective. The first option is a full– time department. The second option is a full– time cadre of hazardous materials technicians who would make up the entry team and the emergency medical services personnel operating in the warm zone. Volunteers would be used for the standby team, the decontamination team and other functions on scene.

For a full–time department, approximately 35 people are required to meet the staffing demand on a 24–hour, 365 days per year basis. The makeup of the department should include a fire chief, an assistant fire chief, and 33 firefighters. At least two of the firefighters should be trained as hazardous materials training officers. All firefighters should be trained to at least the operational level, and at least 12 should be trained to the technician level. The goal for the department should be to train all firefighters to the technician level to provide operational flexibility. The budget for personnel for a full time department of this size is estimated at $1,645,000 year. Equipment costs would be $100,000 for the first year, and then $10,000 per year for subsequent years.

Under the option for full–time hazardous materials technicians with volunteer support, a full–time cadre of hazardous materials technicians who would make up the entry team and the emergency medical services personnel operating in the warm zone. With four responders on duty at all times, it would take approximately 18 people to staff the full–time positions. Two of the full–time personnel would serve as hazardous materials trainers.

The full–time personnel would conduct all activities in the “hot zone,” including rescue and spill control. Initial response to an incident would be limited until such time as the volunteers could respond to serve as the standby team and to set up the decontamination facilities. Volunteers would be responsible for decontamination and other functions on scene.

All full–time personnel should be trained to the technician level. All volunteers should be trained to the awareness level, twenty–five to thirty volunteers should be trained to the operations level, and at least 12 volunteers should be trained to the technician level. The goal for the department should be to train all firefighters to the operations level to provide operational flexibility. The budget for personnel for a this option is estimated at $846,000 year. Equipment costs would be $100,000 for the first year, and then $10,000 per year for subsequent years.


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