February 24, 2014

Local group reviews hazmat sites

Team drills for both industrial and railroad disaster response

LEWIS — The Essex County Office of Emergency Services has cataloged 128 places throughout the county where hazardous chemicals are kept.

The sites serve local industries and include chemicals such as ammonia in Lake Placid and formaldehyde in Crown Point, County Hazardous Materials Coordinator James Curran told the county’s Local Emergency Planning Committee recently.


Curran said the Essex County Hazmat Response Team plans and trains for every conceivable chemical disaster.

“We have a team that’s very involved. We do a lot of hands-on training. We drill once a month.”

Sometime this summer, they plan a training exercise in Port Henry, where 100-car crude-oil trains pass through on their way from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale fields to the Port of Albany.

“We want to have an exercise (simulating) where a train derails and we have oil all over,” Curran said.


He said he regularly meets with fire chiefs around the county, discussing disaster-response plans.

“There are five big hazards (sites) we’re concerned about, and Ticonderoga mill is the big one.”

International Paper’s Ticonderoga mill stores and uses numerous chemicals in the papermaking process.

He said mill personnel are very concerned about handling of hazardous chemicals and want to be as safe as possible. He regularly meets with them on emergency-planning matters.


Local Emergency Planning committees were created by an act of Congress after the Bhopal, India, disaster in 1984, in which a methyl isocyanate gas leak at a Union Carbide plant killed almost 4,000 people and injured more than half a million Indian citizens.

“The federal Right to Know Law requires each holder of hazardous chemicals to report that to the LEPC,” Essex County Emergency Services Director Donald Jaquish explained.

He said the county has an E-Plan database that lists every chemical-storage site that’s reported to them. It can be accessed online, and businesses can file to it electronically.

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