LawCo EMD moves to dissolve bi-county LEPD

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Members of the Local Emergency Planning District hosted a tabletop exercise as part of the regular July meeting.

The exercise scenario involved a train crash on the Barry-Lawrence county line. The four-engine train in the scenario was loaded with chlorine, potassium hydroxide and sodium chlorate, a deadly mix of chemicals that results in six fatalities and a host of other patients needing immediate treatment.

Participating agencies went through their disaster plans to determine the best course of immediate action, including evacuation, deployment of hazardous materials response teams, firefighters, police, ambulances and other emergency responders.

Members participated in the worst-case scenario plan involving both municipal and rural residents, and strategies for protecting people and livestock from the vaporous clouds that spread the noxious fumes through prevailing winds.

The exercise was beneficial in that it joined various responding agencies in a coordinated problem-solving effort to combat a massive disaster that could impact thousands of people in Barry and Lawrence counties.

In other business, Chet Hunter, Lawrence County emergency management director, advised the membership that he wanted to dissolve the Local Emergency Planning District (LEPD), which covers both Lawrence and Barry counties, and form a stand-alone Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) in Lawrence County.

Hunter said the Lawrence County commissioners had already signed the dissolution agreement.

David Compton, Barry County emergency management director, advised the membership the Barry County Commission was against the move and had not signed the agreement.

"They feel there are too many border partners in industry that would end up having to attend two meetings a month instead of one," Compton said. "They are not in agreement to the dissolution at all."

Compton also said the ultimate decision was up to the Missouri Emergency Response Commission (MERC) in Jefferson City.

"It's better for the district to stay together for the border industries that have an interest in both Mt. Vernon and Cassville," Compton said.

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