Originally created 08/15/97

Richmond industries to develop disaster scenarios



After more than two years of planning, Richmond County's major industries are preparing to acquaint the public with potential "worst-case" chemical disasters in their communities.

The presentation - a joint effort among local industry, the community and government - will be offered to the public from 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 10 at Bell Auditorium in Augusta.

The Richmond County Local Emergency Planning Committee is coordinating the event, which will include assessments of how bad a major chemical spill or industrial explosion would be in our area.

Worst-case studies and risk-management projections are required under amendments to the federal Clean Air Act, said Pam Tucker, Richmond County Emergency Management Director.

Bill Law, a committee member helping to plan the risk management program, said Richmond County industries are far ahead of the pack in efforts to comply with new laws, which set a compliance deadline of June 21, 1999.

"We're moving way ahead of that," Mr. Law said. "What's being done in Richmond County is years ahead of other communities."

Participants include A.C. Industries, Amoco Polymers, Augusta Utilities Department, DSM CHemicals, International Paper, NutraSweet, Olin Corp., PCS Nitrogen, Peridot Chemical and Procter & Gamble. Chemicals involved in the projections include chlorine, ammonia and oleum, a form of sulfur trioxide.

"In looking at worst-case scenarios, each company had to determine what the worst case was, and then calculate the distance it would go," Mr. Law said, noting that worst-case situations are unlikely to ever occur.

Participants also calculate a more likely accident scenario, which takes into account existing safety and control measures. Those scenarios, although less dramatic, are closer to real-life risks, he said.

Ms. Tucker estimated 30 to 40 Richmond County industries - and many others in Columbia, Burke and Aiken counties - will have to comply with the new laws. Most, she added, will use the 10 initial companies' efforts as a model.