Bismarck, ND - The North Dakota Department of Emergency Services (NDDES) hosted nearly 300 attendees this week at a two and a half day hazardous materials conference in Bismarck at the Ramkota Hotel. The conference featured more than 20 different speakers and panelists, including keynote speaker, Frank Patterson, Emergency Coordinator, City of Waco and McLennan County (Texas). Patterson was the incident commander for the vast, multi-agency response following the West Fertilizer Co. explosion in 2013. His presentation provided an overview of the response, the community's recovery, and the importance of robust public information capability.
Presenters consisted of national, regional, and local leaders in hazardous materials preparedness, and planning covering a range of topics to include:
TRANSCAER safety training for ethanol, anhydrous ammonia, and petroleum
Hazard materials mitigation practices
Hazardous materials impacting water
Emergency response for hazardous materials shipped by rail
North Dakota is undergoing many changes in agriculture, manufacturing, and energy industries. Modern agriculture practices are utilizing additional chemicals in crop production. The advent of no-till farming and genetic engineered crops requires fertilizers and new and additional chemicals for control of weeds and insects. Coal mining and the usage of coal by the electrical generating plants and the manufacture of products such as synthetic natural gas and other products are growing. Oil exploration and drilling has increased tremendously in the last few years and the risks to local communities are increasing.
Because of these changes, continued training in emergency response to haz mat incidents is a priority for our first responders, such as law enforcement officials and firefighters, private industry, and local, state, tribal emergency management professionals. The conference was last held in 2012 and will be held again in 2016.
For more information about the Hazardous Chemicals Preparedness and Response Program, visit www.nd.gov/DES/planning/haz-chem/default.asp.
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The North Dakota Department of Emergency Services provides 24/7 emergency communications and resource coordination with more than 50 lead and support agencies, private enterprise, and voluntary organizations to assist local jurisdictions in disaster and emergency response activities. It administers federal disaster recovery programs and the Homeland Security Grant Program.