the film

Preparing for Disaster

by Stephanie Smith, April 1, 2009

CLARKSTON - Local rivers are a big part of life in the Valley, offering swimming, fishing and even drinking water.

But they're also used to transport toxic materials.

"Oil, propane, anhydrous ammonia, Potlatch brings a whole bunch of caustic stuff to the Potlatch plant, it all comes up the Whitman County side of the river," said Asotin County Emergency Manager Butch Aiken.

Aiken said a spill could have a devastating effect on the environment.

"Wildlife, fish, it covers the water, it doesn't just dissipate very quickly, the foul, the birds, the ducks and things like that," said Aiken.

On Tuesday officials from the WA Department of Ecology and local emergency responders met to run an oil spill drill.

"Tidewater Barge is conducting a spill hazmat program for the Port of Wilma and the Asotin County area if there was a spill," said Aiken. "Today they did a 5,000 gallon diesel spill into the Snake River and they've got all the players here. It's a test per-say for Tidewater Barge and their procedures."

Aiken said if there was a spill, Asotin County officials would be the first on the scene.

"Asotin County Fire District 1 has a spill trailer on hand and more than likely Asotin County, Nez Perce County, Whitman County, would be the first responders if there was a spill," said Aiken.

Aiken said they would work with the barge company, launch jet boats and put out booms to soak up the hazardous material.

He said he hopes Monday's drill and others like it, will help improve communication and limit damage if a real spill were to occur.

Stephanie Smith
Preparing for Disaster, April 1, 2009

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