Response, Recovery and Resiliency planning

We don’t like to think about the likelihood of a “major disaster” striking our township – near our homes, schools, retail shops, churches or other places where people gather. While a massive explosion is not normally in the purview of daily thought, with the nearby ETP/Sunoco pipelines now running through our neighborhoods, the “risk” of disaster has exponentially increased.  Beyond the risks created with a highly volatile liquid gas being pumped through these pipelines, the environmental impacts affecting our soil, polluting our water or wreaking havoc on home values has caused immeasurable stress for so many residents.

Are we prepared for a disaster? Do we have trained firefighters and other first responders to deal with a crisis related to an explosion? Recently the explosive Philadelphia refinery fire of June 21, 2019 had 150 Philadelphia firefighters respond to help, but they were not able to help because it required a “specialty” skill to respond to that large scale gas explosion. Would we fall victim to the same challenge with no one available who is properly trained, to respond?

Philadelphia Refinery Fire June 21st, 2019 resulting from an “escaped” gas cloud that was not detected in time.

Having participated in the development of post disaster risk assessment and resiliency plans for federal government agencies and the Department of Homeland Security in “Post 9-11” planning (Critical Infrastructure Protections by Executive Order under # 43 President G.W. Bush) and also having developed national publications supporting state and local guides for building resiliency post a disaster, I plan to use my experience to foster plans for Edgmont Township working with the current 2018 Delaware County Risk Assessment of Mariner East.  While most catastrophic events cannot be predicted and therefore not easily mitigated, having no viable action plan to follow amounts to a jaw dropping deficiency in our governmental leadership, at all levels.

Not all things can be resolved at a local level, but doing nothing is not a feasible option. The current lament of “we can’t do anything” or “it’s out of our hands” makes no sense. Let’s take the high road and develop a plan that enables state/local/federal and profit taking stakeholders to step up and take responsibility to place OUR safety first. Safety plans CAN be adopted at the local level and while not all pervasive, communities that work together can self-mobilize to support efforts to improve safety for themselves and for their neighbors.