AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Wednesday Briefing: No Contaminated Water for Cape Cod Bay

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for December 8, 2021: Extended power outages continue on Hawaii Island; there was no tsunami threat after a swarm of earthquakes occurred off the coast of Oregon; Easton High School was evacuated after it received bomb and violence threats; plans to shore up the Millennium Tower will continue in the face of additional sinking; the NWS confirmed an EF-1 tornado touched down in Franklin County; several barges broke loose and halted traffic on the Mississippi River; officials in Iceland raised the alert level to Orange for the Grímsvötn volcano; and as decommissioning of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant continues, Holtec International announced that it will not be releasing contaminated water into Cape Cod Bay.

1. Extended power outages continue for locations on Hawaii Island, including Volcano, Kona and Puna. Weekend storms and high, gusty winds downed trees and power lines across much of the southern portion of the island. Hawaiian Electric has crews working to restore power as quickly as possible, and affected residents can check the company website for updates on power restoration.

2. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), multiple earthquakes struck off the coast of Oregon on Tuesday. Magnitudes for six of the earthquakes ranged from 4.0 to 5.5 and were centered along the Blanco Fracture Zone. The USGS noted that there was no tsunami threat from the quakes, but the swarm of earthquakes is still ongoing as of Wednesday morning.

3. A bomb threat prompted the evacuation of Easton High School in Talbot County, Maryland, on Tuesday. A student received a text from an unknown number at around 9:30 a.m., threatening a bomb explosion or violence at lunchtime. Students were evacuated from the building and sent to another location, then later dismissed from that location at around 12 p.m. The threat was not credible, although police continue to investigate the incident.

4. The Millennium Tower in San Francisco is still sinking. Plans to stabilize the building and prevent it from further sinking and settlement are moving forward, but during installation of the first test pile in bedrock last month, the building tilted another quarter of an inch. It is not the first time the repairs have caused sinking, but engineers plan to move forward with test pile placements. The building has settled at least two inches since work began in May to shore up the structure, now tilting a total of two feet at the edge.

5. The National Weather Service (NWS) has confirmed that a tornado touched down in Franklin County Sunday night. The EF-1 tornado downed trees, damaged roofs, and damaged some homes and businesses in the town of West Frankfort, Illinois. According to the NWS, the tornado was 175 yards wide, lasted for 4.6 miles and had wind speeds of about 95 mph.

6. Several barges broke loose from their grouping Sunday morning on the Mississippi River, north of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. River traffic was halted for several hours in the region, as tow boats gathered the loose barges and returned them to their initial barge grouping. The barges were caught before they reached the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge, and no injuries were reported as a result of the incident.

7. Several recent earthquakes have prompted officials in Iceland to raise the alert level for its most active volcano, Grímsvötn. The current alert level is now at Orange, due to the high seismic activity, meaning that an eruption is likely possible. Although there has been an uptick in seismic activity, officials noted that they have not detected any tremors that indicated a surge in underground magma.

8. As decommissioning of the Pilgrim Nuclear Plant continues, Holtec International changed direction and announced that it will not be discharging contaminated water into Cape Cod Bay, at least through the end of 2022. The company had planned to release the contaminated water into the bay in 2022, but is now seeking alternative options to dispose of the water. The contaminated water will continue to be housed onsite at the plant, which was taken offline in 2019.

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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