AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Friday Briefing: Lax Prosecution May Contribute to Railroad Theft

Emergency and disaster management briefing for January 21, 2022: Yantian announces a new four-day container arrival rule; water contamination is ongoing at seven public schools on Hawaii Island; a dramatic spike in railroad freight theft may be from lax prosecution laws; Vale was ordered to repair 18 tailings dams after recent heavy rains in Brazil; the Army Corps of Engineers announced a new lock upgrade in Winfield; FEMA launched its new National Resource Hub; the U.S. Forest Service has a 10-year strategy plan for reducing wildfires and their impacts; and the application period for the FEMA Fire Prevention and Safety Grant Program is now open.

1. The largest port facility in Shenzhen, China, is restricting container entry to help ease congestion. Yantian, the world’s fourth largest port terminal, will now only allow full containers to be trucked in four days prior to a ships berthing. Ships are currently waiting about one week before they are able to berth, and the new ruling is meant to keep congestion and backlogs within the port at a minimum.

2. Water contamination is still an ongoing issue at seven public schools on Hawaii Island. The military began flushing water systems on Thursday at seven elementary schools serviced by the Red Hill Naval water lines. Tankers of potable water were placed at schools, and bottled water is being distributed to classrooms. In November, the water supply was contaminated by a fuel leak from the Navy’s Red Hill underground storage facility.

3. A dramatic spike in railroad freight theft has left piles of boxes, packaging material and other debris across train tracks in Los Angeles, California. Lax prosecution laws are being blamed for the thefts, which may cause some train systems, including Union Pacific, to avoid operating in the Los Angeles area. According to the railroad company, they have seen a 160% increase in thefts due to the lax prosecution of theft and trespassing laws in the county.

4. There are 18 tailings dams in Minas Gerais, Brazil, that are in need of work to guarantee their continued safety after recent rains. Officials in the state announced Wednesday that Vale, SA has 10 days to submit a proposal for planned work to ensure the safety of the 18 dams. Vale has had two deadly tailing dam failures in the state, one as recent as 2019, that have caused widespread death and destruction.

5. The Army Corps of Engineers announced it will upgrade Lock 25 on the Mississippi River in Winfield, Missouri. Currently, the lock is only one 600-foot chamber, which requires large, 15-barge tows to disassemble before they can navigate the lock. The upgrade will consist of a new lock, built next to the existing lock, that will be a 1,200-foot chamber. The new lock will allow two-way traffic and an increase in capacity, while decreasing travel time through the lock for barges. The additional lock will also prevent the halting of river transit if one lock temporarily becomes inoperable. Construction is expected to take five to seven years to complete.

6. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) launched a new National Resource Hub this month as part of its Preparedness Toolkit. It is a consolidation of a suite of web-based tools, including an online library of all resource types and job titles/position qualification sheets that is consistent with the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Other features include the Resource Inventory System and One Responder, an online personnel and training qualifications management tool to help comply with the National Qualification System (NQS).

7. The U. S. Forest Service announced it has a 10-year strategy for increasing the scale of forest health treatments. The effort, “Confronting the Wildfire Crisis: A Strategy for Protecting Communities and Improving Resilience in America’s Forests,” will focus on eight areas, including fuel removal, mechanical thinning, timber harvesting, prescribed fires, and the construction of fuel breaks. Part of the initiative will also include pre-fire planning and the training of personnel for wildland firefighting and vegetation treatments.

8. The application period for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Fire Prevention and Safety Grant Program is now open. There is $46 million available through the grant, which is focused on reducing injury and preventing death among high-risk populations. The grant money is awarded directly to eligible fire departments as well as national, regional, state, local, tribal, and non-profit organizations. It is intended for fire prevention programs and also supports firefighter safety and health research efforts. A series of upcoming webinars through FEMA offers assistance on how to navigate the grant application. The grant application period ends on February 18, 2022, at 5 p.m. ET.

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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