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County updates disaster plan

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Officials in Summit County who received an update last week from their emergency manager say they are equipped to respond to a terrorist attack in the Snyderville Basin.

Summit County Emergency Manager Butch Swenson discussed response plans with the Summit County Commission last week in Coalville.

In western Summit County there are "all types of terrorist targets," Swenson explained, adding that he has never received a threat of terrorism.

Leaks of the hydrous ammonia used at the site of bobsled, luge and skeleton events at the 2002 Winter Olympics could be dangerous.

"This time of year, when it’s warm and there is a breeze, it will dissipate quickly," Swenson said, but added that, in the winter when there is no wind, the escaped gas could form a deadly, rolling "cloud."

According to Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer, "We do feel that as a county we have somebody monitoring this situation and if there were to be an emergency we are prepared."

But County Commissioner Sally Elliott said she wants additional safety monitors installed at Utah Olympic Park before next winter.

"I think we could get a grant to install those and install those quickly before the onset of cold weather," Elliott said.

According to Swenson, "They have equipment to take care of leaks and respond on site."

"Our trained facility operations staff maintains their knowledge through ongoing hazmat training, which includes 32 hours of annual certification, in addition to mock drills with local safety agencies to continue to hone their skills and keep the information fresh," Utah Olympic Park spokeswoman Alison Butz said in a prepared statement. "The community’s safety is of utmost importance to our organization."

Meanwhile, Swenson said, incidents generated by trucks that spill materials onto Interstate 80 are "number one on the hit parade."

"We can’t go a month without a hazmat incident [but] most of them are not any more than 50 gallons of diesel fuel," Swenson said. "On Interstate 80 and 40 you can’t go 10 minutes without passing four or five super tankers, big trucks with crude oil going to Salt Lake."

A tanker with spilled chlorine could threaten school children in the Snyderville Basin.

Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said another dispatch center is necessary in case a disaster damages the Summit County Justice Center.

"We’re trying to make sure that we have that ready to go," Edmunds said.


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