Note: Anderson County Emergency Management Director Steve Payne recently responded to a citizens’ question about safety measures the county has in place to protect drinking water in the event of a hazardous situation like that which recently occurred in West Virginia. Here’s Payne’s response, which was forwarded by the County Mayor’s Office, which had initially received the question.
Dear Mayor Frank,
Please forward to the citizen who asked:
What safety measures does Anderson County have in place to protect citizens’ drinking water in the event of a hazardous situation like that which occurred recently in West Virginia?
Anderson County is home to some 50 facilities that manufacture, process, store, or utilize quantities of hazardous radiological or chemical materials. The majority of these facilities are located in industrial parks in the county and cities of Oak Ridge, Clinton, and Lake City.
Facilities with quantities of hazardous materials that meet or exceed threshold levels established by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are required by federal law to file each year a Tier 2 Report stating the material(s) and quantity on site. In addition to the name and quantity of each material, the report includes Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), a site map showing location of material, type of storage container, type of storage conditions, and description of dikes, holding basins, and other safeguard measures. Tier 2 reports received in 2013 from private, non-DOE facilities identify 42 separate hazardous materials.
These reports are provided to the local fire department, Anderson County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), and the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC). Anderson County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) serves as custodian of these reports. Further information on Tier 2 reports may be found by online search for 40 CFR Part 370.
Information in the Tier 2 report allows emergency response agencies to pre-plan for accidents resulting in the spill/release of specific hazardous materials including characteristics, reactions, evacuation perimeters, health threats, and tactics for responder and citizen safety.
Despite the state and federal regulations and oversight in place, facility safety and response plans, and inspection by the local fire department and OSHA, an accidental spill/release from a fixed facility or a transportation accident could occur at any time.
With regard to drinking water safety, many Anderson County facilities with hazardous materials are located in proximity to streams, creeks, or the Clinch River. A major spill/release at these facilities or a transportation accident involving rail or roadway carriers over or near water could, immediately or over time, affect water quality downstream.
Impact of a spill/release would depend on location of the spill, quantity of material released, toxin level of the chemical, water velocity, and dispersal rates.
Anderson County residents receive water from four providers—Anderson County Water Authority, Clinton Utilities Board, Oak Ridge City, and Hallsdale Powell Utility District—with treatment facility intakes located along the Clinch River. Oliver Springs Water Department draws water from Bacon Springs located on Highway 61 in the Marlow Community, and Norris from Lower Clear Creek.
These utilities maintain current state-approved facility safety and emergency response plans and work cooperatively to provide support to an affected facility during emergency incidents.
In the event of any major emergency, the Anderson County EMA director activates the Anderson County Basic Emergency Operations Plan (BEOP). This document, available online at andersontn.org/emergencymanagement.html, outlines the responsibilities of some 80 local, state, and federal agencies for emergency response.
While no community can guarantee the source of its drinking water will never be compromised, the following conditions, already in place, will reduce the possibility, lessen the severity, and shorten the duration of a drinking water emergency that may occur in Anderson County.
- Federal regulations and state laws set standards designed to prevent all hazardous materials accidents.
- Tier 2 Reports allow local emergency response agencies to prepare for an informed response to all hazardous materials incidents.
- A cooperative relationship between utility providers throughout the county serves to reduce the impact on citizens of a drinking water emergency.
- A comprehensive BEOP brings together local, state, and federal resources for a coordinated response to all major emergencies and disasters.
If you would like further information, please contact EMA Administrative Assistant Lin Chilcoat at (865) 457-7846 to schedule a time to meet.
Thank you for your interest in emergency management and concern for citizen safety in Anderson County.