AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Wednesday Briefing: I-40 Bridge Over Mississippi Shut Down Indefinitely

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for May 12, 2021: Colonial Pipeline continues enhancing supply chain deliveries after a cyberattack; heavy rains and high winds led to dangerous flash floods and power outages in New Orleans; PG&E was ordered to revise its 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan; new studies indicate that caldera rim collapses increase the size and duration of volcanic eruptions; a sinkhole is causing a rapid lake level drop in a St. Louis park; the I-40 Hernando De Soto bridge that spans the Mississippi River has been shut down indefinitely by TDOT; there are no reporting requirements for containers lost at sea unless they contain hazardous materials; and the Colonial Pipeline hack was likely conducted by the DarkSide group.

1. The cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline continues to impact East Coast businesses as a major portion of the pipeline remains shut down. An official announcement by Colonial Pipeline outlines steps the company has taken to ensure the physical security of the pipeline. Along with that, the company has expanded deliveries by tanker trucks and been granted weight restrictions and hours of service exemptions to expedite refined fuel delivery.

2. Dangerous flash flooding impacted the New Orleans area on Monday, cutting power to thousands and impeding traffic in the city. High winds and lightning, along with heavy rainfall of up to six inches in some areas, produced the power outages and flash flooding. The threat continued into Tuesday, as storms continued moving through the area as a frontal boundary met warm, moist inflow air from the Gulf of Mexico.

3. As fire season kicks off early along the West Coast, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has been ordered to revise its 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan. The order comes after several issues were found in the plan by the California Public Utilities Commission’s Wildfire Safety Division. Two of the issues found included a lack of prioritization of vegetation management and inspections at high-risk locations.

4. New studies reveal that the caldera collapse at the Kilauea volcano increased the size and duration of the eruption in 2018. Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California noted that when a caldera rim collapses and the rock slides down, it increases pressure underground, pushing out more magma. Maybe more importantly, the team noted that the caldera collapse was caused by vents — openings through which lava flows — that were some distance away from the caldera.  This emptied the chambers below and left the caldera rim without support, which caused it to collapse.

5. Lone Elk Park in St. Louis County has a massive manmade lake whose levels are rapidly dropping. A large sinkhole in the lake is causing the substantial drop in the lake’s water level, and it is not the first time this has occurred. In 2016, a sinkhole that caused a major water level drop was fixed when it was filled with a concrete slurry.

6. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has indefinitely shut down the I-40 Hernando De Soto bridge that spans the Mississippi River. The shutdown occurred after a routine inspection by the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT) found a crack in a truss underneath the bridge. An emergency inspection is underway to determine the extent of the issue and the repairs needed.

7. This year alone, more than 1,000 shipping containers have toppled off massive container ships. A study to help determine what happens to the items within the shipping containers was conducted after a 2014 Atlantic Ocean spill of HP inkjet cartridges. The plastic ink cartridges washed ashore in multiple locations, including Florida, Norway, the Azores, the United Kingdom and Ireland. They were brittle and chalky, meaning micro-plastic particles were already released. They also contained metals and microchips, the latter of which the impacts on marine life are unknown. Currently, there are no requirements for shipping companies to report containers lost in the ocean unless they contain hazardous materials.

8. Reports indicate that the cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline targeted the business side, rather than the operational side. The hackers, believed to be the DarkSide group, conducted a ransomware attack, and FireEye was allegedly contracted to assist the organization in determining the vulnerability and help re-secure the company’s network.

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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