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Hazardous spill seminar helps authorities prepare for disaster

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MONTROSE, Ia. (WGEM) -

When you think of oil spills, places like the Gulf Coast or Alaska come to mind.

But the Mississippi River is an oil traffic way meaning a possible disaster could strike anytime, anywhere along our riverfront.

That's why dozens of agencies collaborated on a hazardous material seminar today in Montrose, Iowa.

Many facilities on the river handle oil and there are also pipelines that stretch underneath the river, and that means there is an elevated possibility for a hazardous material disaster.

The U.S. Coast Guard, EPA, the USDA and more than a dozen other agencies trained in Montrose, Iowa today to prepare themselves for a potential hazardous water disaster.

A disaster that is a realistic possibility with the Mississippi River in the town's backyard.

"We have a lot of oil facilities up and down the Mississippi River. There are a lot of pipelines along the Mississippi, a lot of transfer terminals, barges carry a lot of petroleum up and down so this is a good location here," said Joe Davis of the EPA.

Joe Davis of the EPA said today's training is a way for each organization to learn what each other would contribute to a disaster effort.

"We all kind of meet in a situation that is not a real oil spill and collaborate, understand what everybody's roles are and learn these techniques that if we ever did have a spill we could do it," said Davis.

Part of the training here today is to locate and recover wild life, which officials said is an important part to restore the ecosystem, not only here, but far away.

"These birds move on a normal basis. Something that is lightly oiled and is still in a somewhat healthy condition could easily take containments several miles away," said wildlife expert Steve Krueger.

Davis said if a disaster were ever to happen, the EPA is ready to go.

"We've got oil boom, to capture oil if it was floating down the river, skimmers, pumps, this is kind of the equipment we would use to try to deflect oil into a collection location and recover it and get it off the water," said Davis.

 

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