Landfill Neighbors Urged to Build ‘Shelter in Place’ Kits

Brett Blume (@brettblumekmox)

BRIDGETON, Mo. (KMOX) – “We have the potential for a very, very dangerous situation in our community.”

So said Dawn Chapman, who made sure not to waste her opportunity to speak for the first time before the St. Louis County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) on Tuesday.

Chapman is a self-described “concerned Mom” and resident of the area near the burning West Lake landfill in Bridgeton. She has long been sounding the alarm over the potential health dangers to those who live near the site.

“The communication between the LEPC and the state emergency response isn’t there,” Chapman told KMOX News after the session. “It’s a broken channel.”

Much of the focus of Tuesday’s meeting was on further making those who live, work and go to school in the danger zone aware of how they can best protect themselves, especially in the event of an emergency.

LEPC signed off on a plan to disperse two sets of pamphlets – one for adults and one for school children – on the same topic – a technique called “Shelter In Place: Keeping Safe During a Hazardous Chemical Emergency.”

It urges landfill-area residents to purchase a large plastic tub and fill it with the following items:

* Battery-operated radio and extra batteries

* Weather radio

* Plastic sheeting

* Duct tape

* Scissors

* Water (1 gallon/person/day)

* Ready-to-eat food and utensils

* First aid kit

* Flashlight and extra batteries

* Towels and blankets

* Hygiene items

* Medications

* Cell phone charger

In the event of an “accidental hazardous chemical release” or other toxic emergency, residents are also reminded to turn off fans and HVAC systems, close doors windows and vents, and seal off a designated “Shelter in Place” room with plastic and towels, having already closed off windows with plastic sheeting and duct tape.

What is Chapman’s concern if such an emergency would occur before everyone in the danger zone was prepared?

“Nobody would know what to do,” she said. “It would be like it was when there was a fire on the surface of the landfill (in March ’14) and nobody knew what to do and nobody had even called 911 yet. It would be mass panic and I think people would get hurt.”

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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