AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Friday Briefing: I-40 Transportation Infrastructure Impacts Continue

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for June 4, 2021: Repairs on the I-40 DeSoto Bridge that spans the Mississippi from Tennessee to Arkansas are likely to extend through July, disrupting traffic; a comprehensive inspection of the I-40 bridge prior to its reopening includes the ultrasound of welds; the Port of Boston announces its infrastructure improvements will be ready to accommodate Panamax ships by the fall of 2021; the government of Sri Lanka has launched a criminal investigation into the fire onboard the MV X-Press Pearl; soaring temperatures led to widespread power outages over three days for PG&E customers in Red Bluff; the USGS recorded a 4.0 magnitude earthquake in the submarine volcano Loi’hi off the Big Island; CISA released an updated Active Shooter Preparedness Program for those involved in the nation’s critical infrastructure; and U.S. officials now believe the cyberattack on the Brazil-based meatpacking company JBS SA was of Russian origin.

1. Repairs to the I-40 Interstate bridge that spans the Mississippi River from Tennessee to Arkansas are likely to take at least two months. Custom-made pieces are required to make the repairs, and delivery of the items is not expected until the end of June. The bridge was closed on May 11 after a crack was found along a major support beam.

2. The Tennessee Department of Transportation is conducting a detailed inspection of the closed I-40 bridge over the Mississippi, including ultrasounds of welds. The detailed inspection will ensure there will be no other issues with the bridge, and it will be able to safely reopen once repairs to the critical support beam are completed. The bridge closure has disrupted the nation’s infrastructure network, caused increased traffic in small neighborhoods, forced freight trucking companies to rework schedules and routes, and delayed shipments.

3. The Port of Boston announced that it will be big ship, or Panamax, ready in the fall of 2021. The port services all of the major container ship lines, including COSCO, Evergreen, and OOCL, and is nearing completion of its $850 million infrastructure improvements to the Conley Terminal. Infrastructure improvements include the deepening of the channels, an expanded turn basin, a new 50-foot berth and three new, 22-foot wide ship-to-shore cranes. Once upgrades are complete, the terminal will accommodate ships of up to 14,000 TEUs.

4. A criminal investigation has been launched into the burning of the MV X-Press Pearl off the coast of Sri Lanka. The ship, which was carrying 1,486 containers of chemicals, including 25 tons of nitric acid, caught fire on May 20 and burned for 13 days. The fire caused tons of chemicals to be dumped into the Indian Ocean, creating an environmental disaster likely to impact the livelihood of those residents in Sri Lanka who are reliant on fishing.

5. Soaring temperatures meant an increase in demand for electric in Red Bluff, California, which led to widespread power outages. Temperatures hovering at about 100 degrees led to three days of blackouts in Red Bluff, as Pacific Gas & Electric struggled to keep power on for residents. The outages occurred Monday through Wednesday, generally from around 5 p.m. to about 10 p.m., when demand was highest.

6. A magnitude 4.0 earthquake was felt across the Island of Hawaii Wednesday night. The earthquake occurred at an active submarine volcano, Loi’hi, located offshore about 20 miles southwest of the Big Island. The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Hawaii Volcano Observatory (HVO) noted after careful monitoring that no significant changes were noted among any of the rift zones or summits of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, Kilauea, or Loi’hi volcanoes.

7. Updates to the Active Shooter Preparedness Program were recently released by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). CISA is encouraging those involved in critical infrastructure to ensure they are prepared to address any risk, including an active shooter. The Agency also released its 2021 resource, Planning and Response to an Active Shooter: An Interagency Security Committee Policy and Best Practices Guide.

8. U.S. officials now believe that the ransomware attack that impacted the JBS SA meatpacking company based in Brazil was likely of Russian origin. According to reports, JBS immediately shut down all affected systems, and backup systems were not affected by the cyberattack. The hack by the criminal organization caused the shutdown of its Australian operations, along with plants in several U.S. states.


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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