AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Friday Briefing: AFG Application Period Opens November 8

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for November 5, 2021: A U.S. Government report alleges that an attempted attack on an electrical substation was conducted by a drone in 2020; a Springfield courthouse was evacuated due to a bomb threat; two U.S. telecommunication companies agree to delay the rollout of their 5G networks for possible airplane cockpit control interference as noted by the FAA; Astronaut High School was evacuated twice in two days due to bomb threats; Southeastern Grocers has recalled its bagged shrimp due to potential listeria contamination; the cocooning of the nuclear reactors at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is projected to be completed by 2026; safety and quality notices were issued by NIOSH and the FDA over product concerns that impact first responders and the medical field; and the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Application (AFG) period opens November 8.

1. An internal U.S Government report states that a possible attempted drone attack may have occurred on a power substation in Pennsylvania last year. Information allegedly published via a Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) regarding the attack notes that a modified unmanned aerial system (UAS) recovered near a substation was likely intending to cause a short circuit meant to damage transformers and distribution lines. According to reports, the JIB was published on October 28, 2021.

2. A bomb threat prompted the evacuation of the Springfield courthouse in Massachusetts on Wednesday morning. According to reports, the bomb threat was received via a phone call to the courthouse, and courthouse officials made the decision to evacuate the building. Police used bomb-sniffing dogs to sweep the building and an all-clear was given around 11:30 a.m.

3. Verizon and AT&T agreed to delay the rollout of 5G after concerns by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about possible interference from 5G cellular towers involving airplane cockpit instruments, including altimeters. Mandates issued by the FAA were to be sent out as early as this week, prohibiting pilots from using automated cockpit systems that help land airplanes in poor weather. The delayed rollout is temporary, as the telecommunication companies have stated that there is no available evidence that the 5G networks will interfere with flight equipment.

4. Students were evacuated from Astronaut High School in Brevard County, Florida, after a bomb threat was found. This was the second bomb threat this week for the high school in Titusville, with the first threat having occurred on Wednesday, which also prompted an evacuation. According to police, both incidents were due to unsubstantiated threats, although police did not provide any further details about either threat.

5. Bagged shrimp is now being recalled due to potential contamination by listeria monocytogenes. Southeastern Grocers issued a recall for its frozen Fisherman’s Wharf brand Jumbo Cooked Shrimp that’s packaged in 16-ounce bags, after routine testing detected the possible presence of listeria. The product was sold at all Harveys Supermarkets, Fresco y Más and Winn-Dixie stores, for which Southeastern Grocers is the parent company.

6. Plutonium contains high levels of radiation. The cleanup can take years, and it is often a very expensive endeavor. The massive Hanford Nuclear Reservation, located along the Columbia River in Washington State, is home to the largest quantity of nuclear waste in the country. The site contains nine reactors that were used to make plutonium for atomic bombs during WWII and the Cold War. In an effort to contain the high levels of radiation, the reactors are being cocooned – encapsulated with steel and cement – to prevent radiation from leaking into the environment. Cocooning of the final reactor is expected to be completed in 2026. However, the cleanup of the massive amount of radioactive liquid waste in 177 underground storage tanks is likely to take decades and will cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

7. Safety and quality notices posted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) highlight concerns over products for first responders and the medical field. The FDA notice identified certain imported gloves that had been reprocessed, cleaned, recycled and resold as new as lacking adequate quality for use. NIOSH noted that six of Advoque Safeguard’s N95 particulate filtering ASG100 respirators require additional pressure testing and until that testing is completed, their use should be discontinued.

8. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) application period will open on November 8 at 8 a.m. and close on December 17 at 5 p.m. for the 2021 fiscal year. A Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) has already been posted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) AFG Application Guidance Material website and is available for review. Applicants interested in learning how to apply for funding are invited to attend one or more virtual workshops through FEMA’s FY 21 AFG Application Development Workshop series that run from November 8 through November 24.

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.

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