AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Wednesday Briefing: 747 Supertanker Ceases Operations

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for April 28, 2021: Crucial testing is underway at one of two new reactors at the Plant Vogtle nuclear facility; Oregon’s 2020 wildfire season was likely due to unusual conditions including strong easterly winds; demands for consumer goods poses risks to ocean shipping as human error leads to accidents; new combination technology may reduce the time needed to inspect power lines and analyze data; plans to fight wildfires may need revamping after company ceases operations of the 747 Supertanker; evacuation orders are in effect for residents nearby the Three Rivers Fire in New Mexico; the FDA announced a recall of all Jule’s Food products due to possible Salmonella contamination; and experts urge early preparedness ahead of the 2021 hurricane season as NHC forecasts set to begin May 15.

1. Crucial testing is finally underway at Plant Vogtle, the nuclear facility in South Georgia. The testing is being conducted on the first of two new multi-billion-dollar nuclear reactors currently being built by Georgia Power. The reactors promise carbon-free emission, but project and cost overruns have led to significant delays in the building of the two new reactors.

2. Oregon had an unprecedented wildfire season in 2020, with 11% of the Oregon Cascades burning in just two days. A new report issued by Oregon State University shows that unusua, strong easterly winds, coupled with extreme low humidity and an ongoing drought, contributed to the devastating fires last September. Researchers noted that the 2020 season likely saw the highest amount of acreage burned in a single year over the last 120 years.

3. An uptick in demand for consumer goods is posing increased risks as shipping companies strive to move more goods in less time. A total of more than 1,000 shipping containers have toppled into the world’s oceans so far in 2021, polluting the ocean and disrupting supply chains.  Larger ships that carry more shipping containers stacked at higher levels also pose new risks, as inclement weather, technical, or mechanical issues make the containers more susceptible to toppling over into the ocean. Industry experts point to human error as the biggest factor surrounding the accidents, including poor decisions by captains to not avoid storms and incorrectly locked boxes that are stacked together.


4. The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) noted that 2020 was particularly devastating for wildfires across the U.S., with a total of nearly 60,000 fires that burned more than nine million acres. Preparedness during the off season can help combat wildfires, and power line inspection is crucial to this effort. New technology offers a faster solution to power line inspection through combined high-definition and LIDAR data collection. The combined technology, coupled with the use of drones, can increase the speed of inspections while also mapping power line vegetation — including identifying species and growth rates — and other factors that can help reduce the impact of wildfires.

5. Some wildland firefighters are scrambling to revamp plans for the upcoming 2021 wildfire season after the announcement that the 747 Supertanker was pulled from service. The loss is significant, as the 747 is able to carry 17,500 gallons of retardant versus a DC-10’s 9,400 gallons, and it only took 13 minutes to refuel the 747.  The company that operates the Supertanker said the decision was financial and pulled the tanker amid discussions with prospective buyers interested in purchasing the aircraft.

6. New Mexico’s Three Rivers Fire has charred at least 12,000 acres amid extreme fire weather conditions. The fire, which began about a half mile north of the Three Rivers Campground, rapidly expanded in steep terrain with strong, gusty winds, and humidity levels of around 8%. Evacuation orders are in effect for several areas, although there have been no reported injuries and no structures burned so far.

7. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a recall of all Jule’s Food products due to potential contamination of Salmonella. The recall includes all products manufactured by the  Carlsbad, California-based company, with products shipped primarily to independent grocery stores in 17 states across the country and directly to consumers. The recall is being issued in conjunction with an outbreak investigation currently underway for Salmonella.

8. Hurricane season starts June 1st, and experts are urging residents to ensure they are prepared well in advance. This year, forecasts from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) will begin on May 15. The change comes after a review showed a pattern of storms developing before June 1 for six years in a row. The official start date has not yet changed; however, a panel of hurricane experts are currently reviewing data to determine if moving the start date of the season to May 15 would be warranted.


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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