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AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Alaska Chadux Network Helps Protect Against Oil Spills

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for March 24, 2021: Ship traffic came to a halt in the Suez Canal after a massive container ship went sideways and ran aground; a judge may order PG&E to expand its PSPS which would affect nearly one million rural residents; many organizations have yet to apply Microsoft Exchange patches, leaving them vulnerable to hacks; preparations to remove the second of nine dams on the Mahoning River has begun; newly updated tsunami maps have been released for three California counties; Japan’s NRA prohibits TEPCO from restarting its Niigata nuclear plant; green energy products produce massive amounts of waste that are buried or sent to landfills; and the Alaska Chadux Network seeks to protect Alaska waters and the Arctic Ocean amid emerging issues.

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1. Ship traffic halted in the Suez Canal after a massive container ship went sideways and ran aground. An Evergreen Line container ship, the Ever Given, en route from China to the Netherlands, lost power on Tuesday, amid a sandstorm with gusty winds. It moved sideways, blocking ship traffic in both directions. The Suez Canal, located in Egypt, is a crucial east-west route for world shipping, and officials warned it may take two days to clear the ship.

2. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) may be required to increase its Public Service Power Shutoffs (PSPS) during dangerous weather conditions. The judge overseeing the company’s bankruptcy is considering forcing the company to cut electricity on power lines next to tall trees. PG&E opposes the proposal, stating that the cut would double the number of PSPS and negatively impact nearly 900,000 rural residents.

3. Many companies have yet to apply critical patches released in early March by Microsoft to address security issues with Microsoft Exchange Servers. Industry officials stated that tens of thousands of organizations are getting hacked at an alarming rate, and patches need to be applied quickly. However, it is critical that a full system analysis also be conducted to check for security breaches that may have occurred prior to the patch application.

4. Preparations began for the removal of the second dam on the Mahoning River in Ohio. The dam, located in Struthers, is the second of nine dams slated for removal from the Mahoning River. The majority of the dams are no longer in use or needed, and efforts are underway to restore the river habitat and area communities impacted by dam removal. The first dam removed was the Lowellville Dam, and the project was completed in August of 2020.

5. New tsunami maps were issued by the California Geological Survey for three counties in California. The updated maps include Alameda, Monterey, and San Mateo counties and include both local and distant source tsunamis. The newly updated maps are now based on a 1,000-year tsunami scenario, rather than a 100-year assumption, using computer modeling to determine how far inland water may flow.

6. Serious safety flaws at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant, owned and operated by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings), prevent it from being restarted. Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) cited unauthorized entry that occurred at 15 locations due to defective intruder detection systems and the backup system as a major safety issue, which currently prevents the plant from restarting. The decision means TEPCO is currently prohibited from transporting nuclear fuel to the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in the Niigata Prefecture or from loading fuel into reactors.

7. Green energy-producing equipment installed 20 to 30 years ago is reaching its life-limit usage. Waste, some of it hazardous, is piling up as these wind and solar units are discarded, many of which end up being buried in the ground or sent to a landfill. The units are designed to withstand the elements, making the units difficult to take apart and separate the materials from each other so they can be recycled. These issues, along with the costs associated with breaking down the units, currently prohibit most of the solar and wind units and their materials from being recycled.

8. The Alaska Chadux Network was developed as a nonprofit organization to help prevent oil spills in the waters near Alaska and in the Arctic Ocean. The comprehensive prevention and response programs address the unique infrastructure and waters around Alaska by actively tracking each vessel,  monitoring ship operations, and responding quickly to early warnings that a catastrophe may occur if it is not addressed. Challenges to protect the waterways in Western Alaska are mounting, as ship size increases and the Arctic Ocean opens for ship travel. Members are calling for new solutions that will ensure protection for the pristine waters now, and in the future.

  

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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