FBI's hazardous-waste preparedness simulation helps shape protocols

Chemical storage tanks provided a visual aid during an FBI-led exercise in Houston designed to test emergency responders in the event of a chemical attack. | Courtesy of the FBI

The FBI's Chemical Countermeasures Unit held a worst-case simulation Monday at a Houston-area hazardous waste disposal company, the bureau said.

The simulation tested the response of the company's employees, local law enforcement and emergency responders to a fire, theft of volatile chemical agents and a break-in at the facility. Agencies that attended the simulation ranged from local to federal entities. Issues that plague such a situation, including jurisdiction response authority, were explored.

“It’s an excellent opportunity for everybody to get together and learn what each other’s capabilities are,” Special Agent Amanda Koldjeski, a WMD coordinator in the FBI’s Houston Division, said.

The simulation also showcased the often-overlooked role that private industry plays in crisis management and response. For Bruce Shelton, manager of the disposal company in La Porte — the site of the simulation — the ideal situation would be to never have a situation, but he said the need to be prepared is non-negotiable.

"I know that we absolutely need to be in contact with our local emergency-planning folks in this type of environment because we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Shelton said.

Harris County officials said the region has a high number of incidents. With that in mind, the opportunity to review protocols for emergency situations is important to prepare the best response possible in the event of a real crisis.

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FBI Houston Field Office One Justice Park Drive Houston, TX 77092

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