Evacuations after I-10 collision were inappropriate - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Letters To The Editor

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Evacuations after I-10 collision were inappropriate

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Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011 4:10 pm


The recent milk truck-fuel tanker collision and fire disaster along Interstate 10 raises two very serious concerns.

If this had happened along the proposed route South Mountain Freeway, Ahwatukee Foothills would have been severely impacted, with many people put at risk. It confirms the very legitimate fears Ahwatukee Foothills residents have that exactly this sort of thing could happen along the proposed freeway route.

But, also, evacuation is entirely inappropriate in this type of scenario. If there is a risk of explosion and resulting shrapnel, the last thing you want is people outside evacuating instead of behind protecting walls. And if there is a plume of toxic smoke, you certainly don't evacuate people out into that, either.

Instead, you shelter them in place, in buildings, where they also shut doors and windows and turn off their HVAC systems to prevent the toxic smoke from entering and harming them, and contaminating their homes and work areas.

This shelter in place strategy versus evacuation is commonly taught at hazmat conferences and training seminars. We know, because we learned this fundamental approach while members of the Maricopa County Local Emergency Planning Committee.

Whoever called for this evacuation made a serious error, and this mistake needs to be investigated before it gets repeated.

Stephen M. Brittle and Greta Rogers


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