01/12/10 266 W, 2 I - + 14 - 13 Big Honkin' Haz-Mat in Morehead City

What happens when a forklift punctures nine drums containing pentaerythritol tetranitrate, as same are being unloaded at a state port in Morehead City? Precautions with a capital P. Officials closed the port, closed all nearby roads, and urged a half-mile evacuation. The Morehead City Fire Department was notified about 4:45 a.m. of the situation. Agencies that subsequently responded included Beaufort Fire Department, Cherry Point Fire Department, Wilmington Fire Department's Regional Response Haz-Mat Team, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit from Cherry Point, the Salvation Army, the US Coast Guard, and US Customs and Border Protection.

Just before 9:00 a.m., a one-mile safety zone was established around the scene. Same included a portion of Highway 70, including the bridge to Radio Island. A two-mile nautical safety zone was also established. Crews issued their first public statement after 9:00 a.m. County officials also activated a "CodeRed" telephone-notification process to residents about 9:30 a.m. Wilmington's haz-mat team arrived about 2:00 p.m. By the afternoon, the spill had been contained, and crews were cleaning it up, and repackaging the punctured containers. Nearby roads and waterways were reopened shortly after 5:00 p.m. The port is planned to reopen tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.

The material was described as a part-liquid, part-solid slurry. Same was shipped in cardboard (!) drums measuring about two-feet high and one-foot in diameter. The spill occurred at the mouth of a shipping container, and some of the material then spilled onto the dock.

Dylan Ray/Carteret News-Times photo

Map, click to enlarge:

Google Maps image


What sort of run is Wilmington to Morehead? Google Maps says merely 94.7 miles, but 2 hours 24 minutes travel time.
Legeros - 01/12/10 - 20:54

Updated with map. Yeah, I have too much free time.
Legeros - 01/12/10 - 21:08

I used to live and work in Morehead, with Wildwood FD and Emerald Isle EMS. The things that went through that port would make your jaw drop. In addition to the port itself, the rail line that runs to the port traverses right down the middle of town, traveling beside Arendell St. and past the hospital, commmunity college, and right through downtown. So, it’s a lucky thing that this was contained inside the port facility.

Can you imagine what would have happened if this had been on a train and derailed right in the middle of downtown?
CJS (Email) - 01/12/10 - 23:34

Wonder why it took so long for wilmington to respond!? And wonder why Atlantic Beach Fire-Rescue didnt respond?
[ENG3INE] - 01/13/10 - 08:56

Since there’s no information provided regarding when WFD was requested, as well as when they left Wilmington, any judgement of their response is moot.

Ditto with ABFD. No information is provided regarding the fire resources that were determined needed, or requested. We can presume that MHFD, BFD, CPFD were sufficient. Again, somewhat of a moot point.

Perhaps you meant to wonder why Wilmington was requested so seemingly much later into the incident, and why were other departments like ABFD also not scene. As written, you place the onus of the question on the agency. As if, WFD or ABFD were deficit in their actions. Tricky language!
LJM - 01/13/10 - 09:26

To maybe enlighten a little bit more on way the RRT team wasnt called as quick as some would have expected. Almost every military post/base/air station/camp has a Hazmat Team assigned to it. With that said, being that Cherry Point was called to assist, they most likely responded with there Hazmat equipment. They are trained to the same standard, if not a more stringent standard, as their civilian counterparts on the Regional Teams. This is not an offical statement on this topic nor should it be accepted as such.
Military Hazmat - 01/13/10 - 12:42

Oh thanks i was just wondering. And yeah I was thinking the same thing. Thanks for answering the question LJM and Military Hazmat.
[ENG3INE] - 01/13/10 - 15:20

This may help some. The training standards are essentially the same, but courses may be slightly different – the DOD course standards follow the NFPA too. I would disagree the the DOD is to a higher standard (too much similarity in the courses and standards). Military HM teams may have more experience in dealing with ordinance, some Rad, and jet fuel; but may not have much experience in other industrial chemicals and in transport accidents. Also, there is not much a HM team can do with explosives and these types of issues are left (legally) for the LE or military experts to handle.

In addition, RRTs respond only when requested through the state EOC from the local IC or the local EM coordinator (policy). If the locals do not request them, they are not dispatched. Carteret Co. is in RRT-2’s area (Wilmington), however RRT-1 (Williamston) is almost the same distance away. It is the State EOC’s call as to who responds. As posted by “Military Hazmat,” the local responders in this area rely on their military bases to assist with HM issues due to their locality. They are pre-disposed to call the local HM team resource first. The RRT would be a back-up. Stay safe!!
A.C. Rich - 01/15/10 - 11:43

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