Hancock Co. responders train for chemical spill

Hancock Co. responders train for chemical spill

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Hancock County's Local Emergency Planning Committee spent much of Wednesday preparing and training for chemical spill disasters.

With all of the sights and sounds of a real hazardous chemical spill, the training exercise was held at the Sabic Industrial Plant at Port Bienville in Pearlington.

"We believe that's critical for us to be prepared in the event of an emergency," said Environmental and Safety Manager Albert Ragas. "Both to the site, as well as to the community."

The scenario utilized five plant workers who had been exposed to a deadly chemical after a holding tank sprung a leak.

"The scenario was based on an acryla spill, which is one of the raw materials we have out here, acrylnitrile. Of course, we simulate it with water so we get a feel for how the emergency folks would respond to that chemical," said Ragas.

In the drill, one of the plant workers exposed didn't survive.

"Unfortunately due to his injuries, and the length of time he was lying in the product, he perished. For the sake of the realism of the exercise, we had to kill him off," said Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Exercise Officer Brain Maske.

The remaining four responders in the drill were decontaminated on site, and taken to Hancock Medical Center for more extensive treatment.

"Our primary purpose was to find out the response time for the fire department, as well as AMR. AMR was here, or at the head of the Port, within 20 minutes. I think that's acceptable for this area," explained Ragas.

Sabic leaders say the plant hasn't had a chemical spill in nearly two decades, but they want to know that similar events can be handled should they occur.

"It's important to do these type exercises purely for the collaboration piece for all the entities that have to respond to something like this," said Maske. "Especially with a place like this, and the public outside of this place, that's why we do this to protect the citizens."

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.