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Nov. 28-30 Hazmat Seminar to Feature Tabletop Simulation of Transportation Disasters

Release Date: 11/27/2000
Contact Information: Roy Seneca, (215) 814-5567

Roy Seneca, (215) 814-5567

NORFOLK, Va. – The mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is co-sponsoring a seminar Nov. 28-30 for emergency response personnel that will feature a sprawling three-dimensional tabletop exercise to simulate two transportation disasters – a maritime incident and a plane crash.

The conference, called “Hazmat Transportation Incidents - Are You Really Prepared?,” is co-sponsored by the Chemical Manufacturers Association. It will be held at the Waterside Marriott in Norfolk.

The EPA will use the conference to better prepare emergency personnel to respond to emergency transportation incidents that could threaten human health and the environment. Transportation incidents represent one of the most likely scenarios that emergency responders will face.

Expert speakers at the conference will address possible hazardous incidents involving transportation ranging from cargo planes and trucks to pipelines and ships.

The tabletop exercise, “Terror Town,” will provide emergency responders a hands-on approach to learn the best ways to respond during a simulated emergency on a spread out community that resembles those used by model railroad exhibitors. Conference attendees, including firemen, police officers, rescue personnel, municipal workers and media representatives, will role play as the emergency scenario unfolds.

Every year millions of tons of hazardous materials are shipped throughout the U.S. by rail, truck, barge, air and pipeline, and each shipment is a potential crisis, according to Rene A. Henry, author of a best-selling book on crisis communications.

Henry, a Norfolk native and a graduate of Granby High School, will outline basic rules for communicating in a crisis to those attending the conference. He is director of communications and government relations for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region and author of You’d Better Have a Hose If You Want to Put Out the Fire.

“Who does what and when and who says what and when are critical,” says Henry. “You never withhold, mislead or lie to the public. And the public believes a ‘no comment’ response is the same as admitting guilt. Trust must be established with the public so the message is believable.”

“Accidents happen that may be not be the fault of the carrier,” he added, “but the public will want an explanation not only from the shipper, the carrier, but any government regulatory agency involved. While such crises can be anticipated and crisis management and communications plans should be in place, too many organizations are either unprepared or underprepared to deal with the inevitable when it becomes a reality.

For more information, call the conference hotline at 410-676-0882.