Hazardous materials grant on hold Commissioners want more information

December 29, 1992|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

The Carroll County commissioners want more information before they will sign a grant request for materials and personnel for a group working to develop a hazardous-material response ++ unit in Carroll.

The Local Emergency Planning Committee, which wants the money to purchase a computer and software and to hire a data-entry operator, needs the commissioners' approval to submit the $21,000 request to the state.

This $21,000 is in addition to $5,000 already requested for the project by the county Emergency Operations Center in that agency's fiscal 1994 operating budget.

"We need to be awfully careful in this economy with putting aside $5,000 here and $10,000 there," Commissioner Donald I. ++ Dell said yesterday.

George E. Thomas Jr., the Local Emergency Planning Committee's chairman, discussed the grant application with some committee members during their monthly meeting at the county office building yesterday.

"We need a few things to begin the planning side of the project," Mr. Thomas told Commissioner Elmer Lippy, who attended the meeting.

A few hours later, grant analyst Michille Hyde discussed the proposal with the commissioners during the Department of Management and Budget's staff time.

The computer would be used to catalog possibly hazardous materials stored in the county, Ms. Hyde said.

If a hazardous-materials incident occurred, the material could be identified and information on how to handle it could be relayed to the accident site by fax, modem or other electronic means, she said.

The committee wants a data-entry operator to type in the hazardous materials that businesses store.

"I honestly don't feel like signing this," Commissioner Dell said. "If I knew more about what this person might be doing, I may say OK."

Mr. Dell also questioned the need for the equipment and data entry operator, since the county has had few incidents concerning hazardous materials.

"Is it absolutely necessary that we have all this, the data entry person and the computer system?" Mr. Dell asked. "That Lehigh incident was the first in a long while. We may not have another one for another five years or more."

On Nov. 5, six employees of Lehigh Portland Cement Co. in Union Bridge were overcome by fumes from contaminants in waste oil.

Administrative Clerk Robert A. "Max" Bair also wondered whether someone on the county payroll could enter the necessary data into the computers so a new temporary position would not have to be created.

The commissioners said they will not make a decision on the proposal until they speak with Mr. Thomas.

If the proposal is not submitted to the funding agency by Jan. 8, they will have to wait a year to apply, Ms. Hyde said.

The LEPC is training emergency services staff to deal with potential hazardous-material accidents in the county.

Currently, when such incidents occur, HazMat units from one of the surrounding counties must be called.

They can take at least 45 minutes to arrive on the scene and another half-hour to prepare to deal with the problem, Mr. Thomas said.

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