Thousands Evacuated for Pipeline Leak in Mexico

Thousands of people were evacuated in western Mexico as streams of gasoline gushed from a pipeline that officials say was tampered with by fuel thieves.

The incident occurred in the town of Tlajomulco, which is close to Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city. The closest homes from the site of the leak are in a housing development only 150 yards. The evacuation took place within a half mile span of the site. There were no reports of injuries and the gasoline never caught fire.

The pipeline is owned by the state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos oil company, known as Pemex. The company closed the valves closest to the leak. Emergency personnel erected a sand-bag barrier around the leak to contain the gasoline and prevent it from entering storm drains.


In 1992, more than 200 people were killed and 1,000 homes destroyed when gasoline leaked into storm drains and ignited in Guadalajara. The effects of the link were comparable to a six mile long bomb.

Pemex has been struggling with fuel thieves for months. Just in the first six months of this year alone, over 1,400 illegal taps fuel taps have been uncovered by the company. That’s more than double the total amount of illegal taps found in all of last year.

Given the knowledge and expertise needed to tap into these high-pressured lines, law enforcement says the thieves must be getting their knowledge and assistance from company insiders. Just this week, 39 Pemex employees and nine sub-contracted fuel delivery truck drivers have been arrested on suspicion of fuel theft. Those arrested were allegedly falsifying weight measurements on loaded tanker trucks at a Pemex distribution facility.

Emergency Film Group’s Pipeline Emergencies was created for the National Association of State Fire Marshals and was funded under a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Emergency Film Group and our parent company, Detrick Lawrence Productions, offer complete production services from development and script writing to screening and distribution. To learn more, read here. . .



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Two Killed in Middle School Active Shooter Incident

A teacher was killed and two students injured in another tragic school shooting today. The incident occurred at the middle school in Sparks, Nevada, which is located east of Reno.

According to police reports, at approximately 7:15 this morning, a student pulled a gun on a teacher and shot him. Two other students were also shot and are currently listed in critical condition. According to Sparks City Manager Shaun Carey, the gunman died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

At this time, authorities are not releasing any details about a possible motive for the shooting.

Swat team responds to active shooter call at the Sparks Middle School. Swat team responds to active shooter call at the Sparks Middle School.

In just this decade alone, there have been over a dozen active shooter incidents at elementary, middle and high schools across this country.

December 14, 2012 - Sandy Hook Elementary School - Newtown, Connecticut. Adam Lanza, 20, murders 20 children, ages 6 and 7, and six adults, school staff and faculty, before killing himself. Police later discover the shooter’s mother dead from a gunshot wound. The final count is 28 dead, including the shooter.

February 27, 2012 - A shooting occurs at Chardon High School in Ohio. Three students were murdered by student gunman T.J. Lane, 17. Lane is sentenced to life in prison in March, 2013.

January 5, 2011 - Millard South High School, Omaha, Nebraska. Robert Butler, 17, opens fire on principal Curtis Case and vice principal Vicki Kasper. Butler then kills himself about a mile from the school. Vice principal Kasper later died at the hospital.

February 5, 2010 - Discovery Middle School, Madison, Alabama. A ninth grade student dies after being shot in the head by another student. The shooter is taken into custody.

August 21, 2008 - Central High School, Knoxville, Tennessee. An unnamed teen shoots and kills another teen. The suspect is arrested by police.

January 3, 2007 - Henry Foss High School, Tacoma, Washington. Student Douglas Chanthabouly, 18, fatally shoots another student. Chanthabouly is taken into custody by police.

October 2, 2006 - Georgetown Amish School, Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. Charles Roberts IV, 32, entered an Amish school and takes at least 11 girls hostage. Five girls were killed and six others wounded. Roberts then killed himself.

September 29, 2006 - Weston High School, Cazenovia, Wisconsin. Eric Hainstock, 15, goes to school armed with a shotgun and a handgun. He shoots and kills the school principal. He is convicted of murder in August 2007 and sentenced to life in prison.

September 27, 2006 - Platte Canyon High School, Bailey, Colorado. Duane Morrison, 54, takes six female students hostage. When SWAT teams enter the school, Morrison shoots 16-year-old Emily Keyes, who later dies at the hospital. Morrison dies from a self-inflicted shot.

November 8, 2005 - Campbell County Comprehensive High School, Jacksboro, Tennessee. A 15-year-old student opens fire on a principal and two assistant principals, killing one of them and critically wounding another.

March 21, 2005 - Red Lake High School, Red Lake, Minnesota. 16-year-old Jeff Weise kills his grandfather and another adult, four fellow students, a teacher and a security officer. He then killed himself.

September 24, 2003 - Rocori High School - Cold Spring, Minnesota. Jason McLaughlin, 15, shoots and kills two students. McLaughlin is taken into custody and charged with second-degree murder.

April 24, 2003 - Red Lion Area Junior High School - Red Lion, Pennsylvania. James Sheets, 14, brings a gun to school and kills his principal and then himself.

March 5, 2001 - Santana High School - Santee, California.  Fifteen year-old Charles "Andy" Williams kills two classmates, a 14-year-old and a 17-year-old, and injures 13. Williams is sentenced in 2002 to at least 50 years in prison.

May 26, 2000 - Lake Worth Community Middle School - Lake Worth, Florida. Nathaniel Brazill, 13, is being sent home for misbehaving, returns to school and shoots and kills his teacher. Brazill is sentenced to 28 years in prison.

February 29, 2000 - Buell Elementary School - Mount Morris Township, Michigan. An unnamed six-year-old boy shoots and kills a six-year-old playmate, Kayla Rolland, at school. He is removed from his mother's custody and put up for adoption.


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Rescuers Free Worker Trapped Under Collapsed Denver School Ceiling

A construction worker became trapped when a ceiling in the old school building he was working at collapsed. It took firefighters close to an hour to free the man from the debris.

The incident occurred at the old William Byers Junior High School in Denver, Colo. The school is being renovated for the Denver School of Science and Technology, a charter school.   

The victim was working in a small room on the second floor of the building when the ceiling collapsed on him. Large chunks of plaster and concrete fell on top of him. Rescue workers had to work at a very painstakingly methodical pace because of the instability of the rest of the area they were working in. They had to re-enforce the unsteady wall that was still holding up the rest of the area they were attempting to rescue the man from.

After being pulled out of the building, the man was taken to a waiting ambulance and as he was being loaded into the ambulance, he gave a thumb’s up sign to onlookers.

School were ceiling collapsed on worker. School were ceiling collapsed on worker.

Confined space rescues can be technically challenging because of the dangers they present to not only the victim, but also to the emergency responders attempting the rescue. Whether in a situation created by the collapse of a building or trench or in designated confined spaces such as silos, sewers or tanks, rescue workers must be keenly aware of the necessary strategies needed to perform a confined space rescue.

Emergency Film Group’s Confined Space Rescue Series provides a comprehensive examination of response issues in a confined space emergency. This series addresses the requirements of OSHA's Permit Required Confined Space Standard as well as NFPA 1006 and NFPA 1670. To learn more, read here. . .

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Kenyan Mall Attack Prompts US Retailers to Prepare for Terrorist Attacks Here

The recent terrorist attack at a Kenyan shopping mall highlights the need for retailers to work with law enforcement to ensure the safety of both employees and customers here in the United States.

At a recent hearing in front of the House Committee on Homeland Security, National Retail Federation (NRF) Vice President Richard Mellor addressed those concerns and the association’s commitment to respond to those threats.

Mellor, who is a former police officer, has been working in the area of public safety for forty years. He categorized shopping malls and other retail establishments as “soft targets” and testified that no one would have predicted or have been prepared for an attack such as the devastating one that took place at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi last month.

That attack, carried out by Somalia’s militant group Al Shabaab, lasted three days, killing 72 people and injuring over 200 more. Part of the mall collapsed from a huge fire that was caused by fierce gun battles between the terrorists and security forces.

kenya Victims of mass shooting at Kenyan mall.

Mellor stated in this testimony that NRF is constantly working with law enforcement, as well as other local, state and federal agencies on developing active shooter responses that fall within the Department of Homeland Security guidelines.  

“Retailers have sophisticated protocols to deal with the threats from a wide range of situations, including organized retail crime (ORC) activities, robbery, active shooter incidents, impacts from natural disasters such as hurricanes or tornadoes as well as being a potential target for a terrorist attack,” Mellor testified. “Because these threats are always present, retailers invest heavily to ensure that they are prepared to deal with any and all threats against their businesses, their employees and their customers. Moreover, retailers are consistently evaluating the effectiveness of their programs and seeking improvements. As criminals and threats become more sophisticated, so do retailers.”

Emergency Film Group’s Handling Emergencies DVD teaches professional security officers and other personnel how to respond to incidents, including workplace violence, in the facilities that they protect. Our Countering Terrorism DVD helps prepare security personnel in the event of a terrorist attack affecting their facility. Both are part of the Professional Security Officer Series.

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Is There Ammonium Nitrate in Your Response Area?

The subject of a recent hearing before the Texas House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee was the deadly explosion at the West Fertilizer Company that occurred in West, Texas on April 17th of this year. Ammonium nitrate was involved in the explosion that killed more than a dozen people, injured more than 160 and damaged or destroyed more than 150 structures.



One of the people to testify before the committee, Texas State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy, presented a briefing called Ammonium Nitrate Estimated Blast Effects. This report was prepared by Aristatek Inc. for the Williamson County Hazmat Team. The team, as well as the state, wanted a method of predicting damage with different quantities of the substance for estimating the potential dangers were it to explode.


Aristatek's brief includes a blast effects table for ammonium nitrate quantities from one ton to 300 tons. It was prepared using a combination of the company’s hazardous materials response software, PEAC-WMD, and its own in-house chemists and engineers. Aristatek is making the brief available to qualified emergency planning, response and zoning officials through the company’s web site. Information about the brief can be found here. . .


The ammonium nitrate brief should provide a resource for communities with local ammonium nitrate stockpiles to help them understand the possible consequences of storing or shipping this substance. The briefing includes an explosion calculator for open-air explosions which shows the distance that fragmentation will be thrown and calculates overpressure - blast effects that can knock down structures and severely injure individuals


According to Aristatek, “The algorithms were developed for TNT,” but Aristatek’s software  “can compute the TNT equivalent of a substance.”


Emergency Film Group’s program, Inorganic Oxidizers studies response actions for incidents involving ammonium nitrate as well as two other important oxidizers, nitric acid and calcium hypochlorite. To learn more, read here. . .


Response to ammonium nitrate incidents is also covered in Responding to Highway Incidents Involving Commercial Explosives, created for the Institute of Makers of Explosives by Emergency Film Group.




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Is Your City Prepared?

A recent survey conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has revealed that some of this country’s major cities may not be prepared to handle large radiological dispersal device [RDD] and improvised nuclear device (IND) attacks. Major cities are thought to be the most likely targets of such attacks. The GAO, which is an investigative branch of Congress, recently presented the 68-page report to Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security.

The GAO concluded that many of these cities have received limited guidance from the federal government and emergency managers who were interviewed voiced a need for both technical and resource assistance from the federal government in order to be prepared in the event of an RDD attack.

The plans and reactions of first responders to the Boston Marathon attacks could be use as a model to follow in "dirty bomb" attacks. The plans and reactions of first responders to the Boston Marathon attacks could be use as a model to follow in "dirty bomb" attacks.

Emergency managers from 27 major cities took part in the study. Most of the cities had assessed what kind of risk they were at for an RDD or IND attack and ranked that risk as being lower than other hazardous risks their municipality faced. Eleven of these cities had completed RDD response plans, and eight had completed IND response plans.  Emergency managers of cities without plans in place said they would rely on their all hazards emergency operations plan or hazard management plan in the event of an attack.

Map of major cities of risk for an attack. Map of major cities at risk of an attack.

Should such an event occur, the primary responsibility for early response would fall to local government. How that response is handled in those first 24 hours is critical to the impact the actual event has on the public.

Despite the concern over the need for federal government guidance and assistance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, (FEMA), told the GAO that more guidance may not be needed because that agency expects cities to handle smaller attacks in the same way the currently handle hazardous materials spills, which is with as limited federal government assistance possible.

But GAO found that even for those cities that had some kind of IND attack plan in place, many could not move forward with any response activities without federal assistance. The agency concluded: “Effective response to an RDD or IND attack would require marshaling all available federal, state and local resources to save lives and limit economic damage.”

Their recommendation: “FEMA develop guidance to clarify the early response capabilities needed by cities” for both RDD and IND attacks.

Emergency Film Group’s Terrorism: Radiological Weapons DVD training video is part of the WMD Response Series. This program demonstrates a credible scenario in the use of a dirty bomb, consisting of explosives and radioactive materials. To learn more, read here. . .

Another program in EFG’s library, Radiation Monitoring, teaches emergency personnel in mission specific Operations Level competencies regarding monitoring for radiation at WMD events as well as natural disasters and industrial accidents. More information on this DVD can be found here. . .



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What's Going on at a Railroad Siding Near You?

There may be secret oil and gas transfer points in your community.

Storage tanks and loading racks for products like heating oil, gasoline and propane cost big money. The siting process can be complicated and time consuming. The construction itself is subject to state and local regulations and national standards. The facilities require extensive security, fire protection features and emergency response plans.

But it seems that some clever operators have found a way around all this by storing products and loading trucks on rural rail sidings - possibly near you. Hazmat teams have begun to catch on to the scheme.

Here’s how it works:  Let’s say you can buy a lot of propane at a very good price during the summer months. If you can hold on to it until winter when prices rise you can make a tidy profit. But costs for storage and trans-loading can cut into the profit. So why not just leave it in the tank car and park it on a quiet siding. When it comes time to bring the product to market, just roll up some pumping equipment and you are ready to load trucks.

No more permits. No inspections. No expensive fencing. No fire protection equipment. No emergency response plans. And the terrorists will never find it. It’s a pretty sweet deal - unless something goes wrong.

And in many states and communities it may well be illegal.

So the takeaway here is to check out the rail sidings in your response area. What’s parked there? How long does it stay there? Do trans-shipment operations take place there? Do you have a response plan for a spill or a fire there? And finally, are the regulatory authorities in your state aware of this activity? If you are not sure who the authority is, start with your state fire marshal.

A railroad siding is a low-speed track section distinct from a running line. A railroad siding is a low-speed track section distinct from a running line.

Emergency Film Group's Hazmat Operations Series is a five-part DVD series that provides OSHA Hazwoper training. With five training videos, it instructs responders on competencies at the Operations Level for responding to a hazardous material incident. This series is also valuable for annual refresher training. For a limited time, EFG is offering the series at almost 40 percent off the regular price. To learn more, read here. . .



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Another Mass Shooting Claims 12 Victims

Twelve people were killed and another eight injured when a gunman opened fire, as he perched on an overlook above an atrium at the Washington Navy Yard yesterday. The shooter, identified as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis of Fort Worth, died in a gun battle with police.

Ages of the victims killed range from 46 to 73 years. Police still have not released all the victims’ names pending notification of their families. Three of the five injured victims were shot, including a 23 year veteran of the Washington D.C. police department, who was shot twice in the leg. The other five victims were hospitalized for contusions and chest pains. Officer Scott Williams and the other injured victims are all expected to survive.

Alexis was a Navy reservist for four years before being honorably discharged in 2011. His records reveal several run-ins with police. These incidents show a possible issue with anger management. A Navy official said they had originally sought to kick out Alexis with a general discharge because of his pattern of misconduct while in uniform, however, because of the slow process, when Alexis requested an honorable discharge, the Navy granted it.

For the past few years, Alexis had been working as a military contractor. There are reports that he was involved in some kind of dispute with the company he was working for and felt he was owed money. He had just arrived in D.C. last week for a project at the Navy Yard and had a security clearance and a valid military identification card, known as a common access card, allowing him unfettered access into most facilities.


Members of the active shooter teams on site at Washington Navy Yard's mass shooting. Members of the active shooter teams on site at Washington Navy Yard's mass shooting.


According to law enforcement, Alexis drove onto the grounds of the navy yard on Monday morning with three weapons in his vehicle. He took the weapons out, proceeded into Building 197 and opened fire. Questions have been raised as to how he was actually able to gain access to Building 197, brandishing weapons since the building is supposed to have armed security at the door and those entering need to present credentials to enter.

There were several shootouts between Alexis and active shooter teams before he was brought down by a D.C. police officer and a U.S. Park police officer.

The Navy Yard shooting marks the seventh time in the past decade that a gunman has killed 10 or more people in a single incident. In 2007, 32 people were killed in the Virginia Tech; 13 people were killed in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting; last year, 12 people were shot and killed at an Aurora, Colo. movie theater; and the Newtown, Conn. school shooting last year in which 26 people were killed, including 20 children.

Emergency Film Group’s Active Shooter: Rapid Response covers the key topics in preparing for and responding to a mass shooting. The film also offers guidance for school officials and emergency operation centers. Organizations of all kinds, in 39 states and abroad, are using the film to prepare – often showing the film to start an exercise involving schools and the emergency response community. To learn more, read here

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Massive Explosion at FL Propane Plant Leaves Nine Injured, Five Critically

A series of explosions which spawned a 20-by-20 foot fireball at a central Florida propane plant has left nine people injured, with at least five of them in critical condition. The massive explosions happened late Monday night at the Blue Rhino propane exchange plant located in the central Florida town of Tavares.

Preliminary statements from Tavares Fire Chief Richard Keith identified either human error or equipment malfunction as the possible cause for the blast and said sabotage is not suspected. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched an investigation, as has the Florida State Fire Marshal's Office.

Lake County Sheriff's Office spokesman John Herrell said at a news conference that there were about 53,000 20-gallon tanks - more than a million pounds in all - at the plant.  At the time of the explosion, there were 24 to 26 workers at the plant for an overnight shift.

The explosions could be felt for miles. Firefighters immediately set up a half-mile evacuation area around the plant. Residents were allowed to return to their homes early Tuesday morning. There were reports of trucks parked at the plant going up in “fireballs” as the cylinders they were carrying exploded.


A series of propane tank explosions set of a huge fire in Tavares, FL. A series of propane tank explosions set of a huge fire in Tavares, FL.


In an interview with Fox News, Tavares Battalion Commander Eric Wages said five workers walked up to a command center firefighters set up near the plant Monday night with skin hanging off their arms, torso and faces. He said their arms were outstretched and they were in complete shock.

Gene Williams, a third-shift maintenance worker at the plant, is being credited with rescuing a forklift operator who was engulfed in flames. Williams found the victim on the loading dock area and put the man into a van, just as cylinders began exploding and raining back down to the ground. He quickly got the man to the hospital.

According to Williams, the forklift driver told him, “I did what they told me to do, I did what they told me to do, and then this happened,” indicating to Williams that the cause of the explosion may be a “combination of human error and bad practices, possibly. I don't want to speculate any further, that's

In 2011, OSHA fined Blue Rhino in 2011 over a “serious” safety violation involving tools and equipment. The violation was due to an air nozzle at the facility that had a missing component.

Emergency Film Group’s Propane, Butane & Propylene is part of the HazChem Series of safety training videos. This program focuses on propane, butane and propylene are the most common liquefied petroleum gases. Highly flammable, their containers can fail with explosive force. To learn more, read here. . .


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