SEATTLE, Wash. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency last week provided more than $5 million to the states of Oregon and Washington for annual operating expenses for those states' continuing participation in the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP).
The CSEP Program provides emergency planning, public education and warning and communications systems to protect the public in areas that could be affected in the event of an accident involving chemical agents stored at the U.S. Army's Umatilla Chemical Depot. The depot is located five miles west of Hermiston, Ore., and four miles south of the Columbia River.
Oregon received nearly $3.6 million in Federal Fiscal Year operating funds for CSEPP activities in Morrow and Umatilla counties, and Washington received nearly $1.5 million for activities in Benton County.
The money will be used for operation of emergency operations centers, training and emergency exercises for first responders and emergency management employees, and information programs and materials for the public living in the immediate vicinity of the depot.
FEMA Regional Director David de Courcy said, "The key to success in the emergency preparedness business, particularly in a complex program like the CSEP Program, is continued pursuit of common goals, effective communication, and ongoing partnerships between all the various levels of government, business, and the public."
The CSEP Program is a joint U.S. Army-FEMA program designed to ensure maximum protection from chemical agent hazards at the Umatilla Depot and seven other chemical storage installations around the country. The U.S. Army manages the chemical stockpile nationwide, but provides off-post preparedness funding and technical assistance to states and local governments through FEMA.
In 1985, Congress passed Public Law 99-145, mandating the destruction of chemical weapons in the U.S. arsenal. Nearly 12 percent of those aging weapons are stockpiled at the Umatilla Chemical Depot.
The Army chose incineration as a means for destruction because it provided the safest method available for destroying chemical weapons. Currently, Army contractor Raytheon Demilitarization Co., is building a state-of-the-art incineration facility at the Umatilla Chemical Depot to destroy the weapons stockpiled there. The facility is slated for completion in April 2000, with chemical agent incineration scheduled to begin the following year.
A number of important program milestones were accomplished by the close of 1998. The accompanying FEMA FACT SHEET highlights program accomplishments.
Umatilla Chemical Site Program Accomplishments
- Three county emergency operations centers (EOCs) were built or renovated, and staffed in Benton County, Wash., and Morrow and Umatilla Counties, Ore. The Umatilla County facility is nearing completion. It will include a Joint Information Center designed to provide timely information to the public during an emergency.
- 11 schools are equipped with over-pressurization systems to provide students and staff a safe haven during a chemical emergency.
- There are 62 operational warning sirens in Morrow and Umatilla Counties, on the Umatilla Chemical Depot, and in southern Benton County.
- 19 operational electronic highway signs were installed for emergency traffic information.
- Three school vans were purchased for schools to evacuate students during an emergency.
- 280 sets of protective clothing were provided to emergency responders.
- 11 mobile trailers were equipped and sited in communities to decontaminate people who may become exposed to chemicals.