Posts from — October 2011

Proactive Approach Needed in Protecting Our Critical Infrastructure Against a Terrorist Incident

Certainly the terrorism events in our nation’s history have impacted many facets of our society – from how we react to a package left unattended to striking a significant blow to our nation’s economy.  The impact would potentially be far more disastrous, however, if such an act of terrorism were to occur against our nation’s critical infrastructure.

What actually constitutes our country’s critical infrastructure?  On July 15, 1996, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13010 establishing the President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection (PCCIP). This Executive Order (E.O.) defined “infrastructure” as “the framework of interdependent networks and systems comprising identifiable industries, institutions (including people and procedures), and distribution capabilities that provide  a reliable flow of products and services essential to the defense and economic security of the United States, the smooth functioning of government at all levels, and society as a whole.”

Following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, President Bush signed new Executive Orders relating to critical infrastructure protection.  Executive Order 13228 created the Office of Homeland Security and the Homeland Security Council with important clarification on critical infrastructure to include:

  • Energy production, transmission, and distribution services and critical facilities
  • Other utilities
  • Telecommunications
  • Facilities that produce, use, store, or dispose of nuclear material
  • Public and privately owned information systems
  • Special events of national significance
  • Transportation, including railways, highways, shipping ports and waterways
  • Airports and civilian aircraft
  • Livestock, agriculture, and systems for the provision of water and food for human use and consumption

To support and encourage the proactive protection of our critical infrastructure, we would like to recommend a document published by the International Association of Fire Chiefs entitled Terrorism Response: A Checklist for Fire Chiefs and Community Preparedness Leaders.

Facta Non Verba

October 26, 2011   1 Comment

Field Test Report of the Midland WR-300 All Hazards Radio

As of August 2011, there were 1,665 tornadoes across the country resulting in 549 fatalities.  There have been 14 named storms from the National Hurricane Center this year so far and predicted storms for the remainder of the year have increased to 19.   Hurricane Irene alone caused 46 fatalities across 13 states.  Hurricane season officially starts on June 1st and ends on November 30th, but, like tornadoes, hurricanes can form anytime of the year. With a hurricane there is at least an advanced warning of a few days, whereas tornado warnings average only ten minutes notice. Just this week, tornadoes touched down here in Central and Northern Virginia.  These events come on the heels of our region’s first 5.8 magnitude earthquake since the 1800’s which continues to produce after-shocks – the latest being just last night. Having adequate warning of an impending hurricane, tornado, severe snow storm, and flooding is crucial if we are to mitigate such events in our lives or in the lives of those for whom we are responsible. Therefore an All Hazards weather radio equipped with S.A.M.E. technology is a good investment. The Midland WR-300 All Hazards Weather Radio makes a lot of sense in keeping you, your family, and workplace informed.

While broadcast radio and television do an excellent job of keeping you aware of severe weather activities, such resources are crippled during a power outage and are limited when we are involved in many of our daily activities – sleeping, working, enjoying leisure activities – when such devices are often not accessible or simply powered off. Oftentimes people can be caught unaware to the point where it becomes too late to react.

Read complete Field Test Report

October 19, 2011   1 Comment

Historic Nuclear Power Plant Shutdown Emphasizes Need to Proactively Prepare for a Nuclear Accident

Have you seen the various comics and jokes circulating about the earthquake in Central Virginia?  Typically they are along the lines of  “We Will Rebuild” tagged to a photo with a lawn chair tipped over.  Perhaps they are good for a chuckle, although the several hundred people in Louisa County Virginia who sustained $15 million dollars in damages from the quake and who were just denied emergency aid from FEMA may actually disagree!  Regardless,  the Central Virginia Earthquake in August resulted in an unprecedented historic event in the United States: the automatic shutdown of a nuclear power plant resulting from an earthquake.  In fact, North Anna Nuclear Power Plant has yet to resume normal operations.  Since North Anna endured an earthquake “beyond its design parameters”, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has mandated the plant remain inoperative until Dominion Virginia Power convinces the NRC that the plant is safe to operate again.

The NRC is also reassessing its existing nuclear power plant emergency zones to determine if the size of these zones should be increased.  Currently, every nuclear plant in the country has a 10-mile emergency planning zone where those within the zone could potentially be exposed to varying and possibly lethal doses of radioactive contamination subsequent to an accident.  These zones are used to determine evacuation mandates as well as pre-positioning medical supplies to facilitate response to an incident.

If such an event does happen and you haven’t been told to evacuate (if you are – please do so!), how can you protect yourself and those for whom you have responsibility? FEMA recommends you take the following actions:

Minimize Exposure to Radiation

  • Distance – The more distance between you and the source of the radiation, the better. This could be evacuation or remaining indoors to minimize exposure.
  • Shielding – The more heavy, dense material between you and the source of the radiation, the better.
  • Time – Most radioactivity loses its strength fairly quickly.

Know the Terms

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a nuclear power plant emergency:

  • Notification of Unusual Event
    A small problem has occurred at the plant.  No radiation leak is expected. No action on your part will be necessary.
  • Alert
    A small problem has occurred, and small amounts of radiation could leak inside the plant. This will not affect you and no action is required.
  • Site Area Emergency
    Area sirens may be sounded.  Listen to your radio or television for safety information.
  • General Emergency
    Radiation could leak outside the plant and off the plant site. The sirens will sound. Tune to your local radio or television station for reports. Be prepared to follow instructions promptly.

Take Protective Measures

If you are told to evacuate:

  • Keep car windows and vents closed; use re-circulating air.

If you are advised to remain indoors:

  • Turn off the air conditioner, ventilation fans, furnace, and other air intakes.
  • Go to a basement or other underground area, if possible.
  • Do not use the telephone unless absolutely necessary.

If you have been exposed to nuclear radiation:

  • Change clothes and shoes.
  • Put exposed clothing in a plastic bag.
  • Seal the bag and place it out of the way.
  • Take a thorough shower.

Seek medical treatment for any unusual symptoms, such as nausea, that may be related to radiation exposure. If you live in proximity to a nuclear power plant, understand the potential for disaster and know what resources are available to you for planning, preparation and response.

 

Facta Non Verba

October 11, 2011   1 Comment