Crisis management

  • Chemical spillsW.Va. spill leads lawmakers, industry to look at reforming toxic substances law

    The government was slow to respond to the 9 January 2014 massive chemical spill in West Virginia because the law governing such response, the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), limits regulatory agencies’ authority to investigate such spills.Under TSCA, the EPA must first prove that a chemical poses an unreasonable risk to health or the environment before it can require the needed testing that would show a potential risk. One observer called this a Catch-22, telling a congressional panel that “This is like requiring a doctor to prove that a patient has cancer before being able to order a biopsy.”

  • First respondersHelping first responders identify chemical, biological, and radiological agents

    The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has expanded the reach and capabilities of its rapid urban plume modeling and hazard assessment system, CT-Analyst, by providing a commercial license to Valencia, California-based Safe Environment Engineering (SEE) for the fields of use of public safety, industrial safety and monitoring, and environmental monitoring. CT Analyst is a tool designed to provide first responders with fast and accurate predictions of chemical, biological, and radiological agent airborne transport in urban environments. CT Analyst will be integrated into the existing product line of SEE’s Lifeline MultiMeterViewer software suite.

  • InfrastructureState agency imposes heavy fine on PG&E for San Bruno blast

    The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) two weeks ago  wrapped up its investigation of a 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California, and recommended  that Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) pay $2.25 billion for its negligence, which led to the blast.

  • DisastersProfessor to help fashion New York disaster preparedness policies

    When New York governor Mario Cuomo looked over the devastation Hurricane Sandy did to Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, he knew this should not be allowed to happen again. Cuomo also knew who to hire to make sure the city is secure. Irwin Redlener, the director and founder of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Mailman School of Public Health, has been appointed as the co-chair of the New York Ready Commission, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg established after Hurricane Sandy hit the

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  • Oil spillsResponding to future oil spills: lessons learned from Deepwater Horizon

    A special collection of articles about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill provides the first comprehensive analysis and synthesis of the science used in the unprecedented response effort by the government, academia, and industry;with the benefit of hindsight and additional analyses, these papers evaluate the accuracy of the information that was used in real-time to inform the response team and the public

  • Emergency responseThe Red Cross, emergency response, and Twitter

    Social media has become such an integral part of our lives that emergency responders are now turning to Twitter and Facebook to gain valuable information during natural disasters or crises

  • Caring for the infirmCaring for New York’s elderly in a disaster

    Given the recent spate of natural disasters that struck the United States and New York City itself, community leaders there are concerned about disaster preparedness particularly for the city’s elderly and disabled populations

  • DisastersApps, digital tools to help cope with disasters

    The Department of Health and Human Services has posted on its Web a list of apps and digital tools which would help individual cope with disasters and the challenges disasters pose

  • Report finds Coast Guard unprepared for BP oil spill

    An internal review by the U.S. Coast Guard found that its response to the colossal Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year was hindered by its lack of preparation and reduced response capabilities; the 158 page review said that the government and private sector “demonstrated a serious deficiency in planning and preparedness for an uncontrolled release of oil from an offshore drilling operation”; in response to the review, R. J. Rapp Jr., the commandant of the Coast guard, said that his agency would pay greater attention to industry oil-spill response plans, begin preparing for future accidents, and conduct a study on the large use of chemical dispersants on the environment

  • NICE acquires Orsus

    NICE, a leading provider of security solutions, acquires Orsus, a pioneer in situational awareness, for an all-cash $22 million; critical incidents have led organizations to make massive investments in a wide range of security technologies and in corresponding manpower; trouble is, these security tools often exist in different silos, which lead to information overload, making it difficult to get the complete picture and manage critical incidents effectively; the combined NICE-Orsus solution addresses this problem

  • Planetary securityCosmic entropy could be 100 times greater than previously thought

    Entropy increases as the number of ways the system can be arranged microscopically without changing the external appearance increases; new study shows that cosmic entropy is a 100 times greater than earlier estimates; the entropy of the universe must be below the maximum theoretical value or life and other complex phenomena will cease to exist; as the entropy gradually increases it will eventually approach the theoretical maximum, a state many physicists have called the heat death of the universe; the new study thus shows that our universe is closer to its death than previously thought

  • CDW-G shows Mass Notification Toolkit

    New Web site offers guidance on emergency alert system implementation, marketing, and sign-up

  • Integrated Wireless Network abandoned

    The Integrated Wireless Network was launched in 2004 to serve more than 80,000 federal agents; GAO says that the three departments working on the project — DHS, Justice, and Treasury — had different goals and failed to collaborate effectively; the three will now pursue separate departmental upgrades

  • U.K. launches dedicated network for emergency communication

    The U.K. government has contracted with BT to develop the National Resilience Extranet — which will enable the secure exchange of information in response to civil emergencies such as floods and outbreaks of agricultural diseases

  • IT security during tough economic times

    Tough economic times lead to layoffs and mergers and acquisitions; a key aspect of such transitions is the inevitable turnover and its impact on internal security