AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Friday Briefing: Monitoring Cesium 137 after Fukushima Disaster

Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 5, 2021: A multi-vehicle crash shut down I-80 in central Iowa on Thursday; several people were injured when an explosion rocked a Red Cross building in southern Germany; two explosive-detecting K-9 teams are now helping secure the El Paso International Airport; despite earlier assurances PSPS would end, PG&E alleges that they will continue indefinitely for California; the University of Alabama is looking for volunteers to help with a severe weather study to be conducted this spring; Vale SA has reached a settlement with Brazilian authorities in the Brumadinho tailings mine collapse; a recall was issued by the CPSC for space heaters due to potential carbon monoxide poisoning and a fire hazard; and a newly published study covers an extensive review and analysis of existing Cesium 137 in the Fukushima Prefecture after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in 2011.

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1. A multi-vehicle crash due to snowy weather shut down I-80 in Central Iowa on Thursday. State troopers were responding to several vehicle crashes in the area when the larger pileup occurred. Several people sustained serious injuries; however, no deaths occurred.

2. Several people suffered injuries when a Red Cross building in Memmingen, Germany, was rocked by an explosion early Friday morning. According to reports, the incident was caused by a defective gas line that runs under the street in front of the building. The building suffered serious damage in the explosion and allegedly, another explosion has not been ruled out.

3. Two K-9 teams have joined security efforts at the El Paso International Airport. The highly trained dogs are able to detect explosives and will be stationed at the security checkpoint on the main floor. The primary location for the dogs will be at the airport; however, their use may include deployment across the city to ensure safety at major events.

4. Pacific Gas & Electric admits that Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) are likely to continue in the state of California indefinitely. Despite assurances from the company that once compliance issues were addressed the PSPS would stop in five to 10 years, lawyers noted that the shutoffs would be part of wildfire risk management into the future. The company said that it is focusing on making the PSPS smaller, shorter and smarter.

5. The Center for Advanced Public Safety at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, is looking for volunteers to participate in a severe weather study. The study will cover the 2021 spring severe weather season and focuses on participant preparations and reactions before, during, and after the weather. Data from the study will be shared with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), along with the National Severe Storms Laboratory to help improve distribution and communication of tornado warnings.

6. A settlement has been reached between Vale SA and Brazilian authorities over a dam collapse in 2019 that killed at least 270 people. Vale SA has agreed to pay $7 billion in compensation and reparations to affected individuals, along with investments in environmental projects. A torrent of mud swept workers away and wiped out buildings when a tailings dam collapsed in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, Brazil in January of 2019. It was the second iron ore tailings dam owned by the company to collapse in just five years.

7. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a recall of space heaters for a potential carbon monoxide poisoning and a fire hazard they present. The recall includes two model numbers of the DeWalt cordless kerosene forced-air heaters. The heaters being recalled were sold at Lowe’s and farm supply stores from June to November of 2020, and consumers are urged to immediately stop using the product and contact Enerco for a free replacement heater that is corded.

8. The study of radiocesium contamination after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) disaster in Japan includes its impact on area forests and ecosystems. A newly published study in an ongoing Technical Document produced by the International Atomic Energy Agency covers extensive review and analysis of existing data on Cesium 137 levels in Fukushima Prefecture’s forests. To help protect people, scientists need to understand how long Cesium 137 — a radioactive isotope — remains in the environment in order to identify radiation in food and wood products sourced from Fukushima.

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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