Technological Hazards

Technological Hazards

Mission

TDEM manages a range of technological hazards programs throughout the state. This includes administering federal grant programs designed to support specific sites in Texas.

The Pantex Plant is located 17 miles northeast of Amarillo, Texas, in Carson County, and is charged with maintaining the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. The facility is managed and operated by B&W Pantex for the U.S. Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration. For more information visit the Pantex Web site.

The Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) Program at the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) works in partnership with local elected officials and emergency managers, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas Department of State Heath Services, the State Energy Conservation Office, B&W Pantex, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration to enhance preparedness and response capabilities and to ensure the protection of the health, welfare, and well-being of the citizens in the surrounding area, the State of Texas, and the nation should an incident take place at Pantex.

In addition to emergency preparedness efforts, the AIP also includes environmental cleanup activities which are primarily administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) Membership Update Form

This form is used to notify TDEM of membership and/or membership updates to a Local Emergency Planning Committee.

To support and enhance the state’s preparedness by managing federal emergency management and hazardous materials grant programs to train and raise awareness about technological hazards and hazardous materials emergency preparedness.

Resources

The purpose of the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) grant program is to increase State, Territorial, Tribal, and local effectiveness in safely and efficiently handling hazardous materials accidents and incidents, enhance implementation of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA), and encourage a comprehensive approach to emergency training and planning by incorporating the unique challenges of responses to transportation situations. This is accomplished in large part through the HMEP grant program that provides financial and technical assistance, as well as national direction and guidance, to enhance local hazardous materials emergency planning and training.

U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is a facility used to store Transuranic (TRU) waste. TRU waste began accumulating in the 1940s with the beginning of the nation’s nuclear defense program. As early as the 1950s, the National Academy of Sciences recommended deep-geologic disposal of TRU wastes in stable formations, such as deep salt beds. Sound environmental practices and strict regulations require such wastes to be isolated to protect human health and the environment. For this reason the WIPP site is located in the Chihuahuan desert of New Mexico, far from major population areas.

The U.S. Department of Energy has established a system for safely transporting TRU waste to the WIPP site for permanent disposal. The waste is transported in 4 shipping containers approved for use by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). These containers consist of the TRUPACT II, TRUPACT III, HalfPACT, and the RH-72B. All containers meet NRC and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) radiation limits for public safety.

The DOT regulations require radioactive materials to be shipped on the interstate highway system unless states designate other routes. The WIPP route designated through the state of Texas encompasses over 650 miles of Texas roadways and travels through 20 counties and 40 municipal jurisdictions. WIPP shipment protocols were developed through cooperative efforts of the states, tribal governments, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

More information can be obtained through the U.S. Department of Energy Web site.

Texas is currently home to two commercial nuclear power plants and two research reactors. TDEM’s Technological Hazards Unit works closely with each power plant licensee, the local jurisdictions and county emergency management officials near each respective facility, the Texas Department of State Health Service’s (DSHS) Radiation Control Program, FEMA Region VI’s REP Program, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Region IV to ensure the health and safety of citizens living around commercial nuclear power plants will be adequately protected in the event of an accident at the nuclear power plant. Additionally, TDEM partners with the other REP agencies to inform and educate the public about radiological emergency preparedness.

Additional Resources

Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC)

LEPCs help protect their communities from and educate the public about potential hazardous materials incidents, emergencies and disasters. LEPCs lead emergency planning about what to do when a hazmat incident occurs.

Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC) Handbook

The LEPC Handbook is an in-depth reference for those who want to understand more about polices, programs and procedures that LEPCs can use to enhance their effectiveness an community resilience. The LEPC Primer is a brief overview of LEPC functions in Texas. The LEPC Guide is the in-depth reference for use by existing committees. The LEPC Project Book contains a number of projects aimed at enhancing LEPC performance.

Hazardous Materials Training

Students can browse and register for hazardous materials courses here. Search the TDEM classroom catalog for available hazardous materials courses.

Contact
David Cella, Unit Supervisor
David.Cella@tdem.texas.gov
(512) 840-9691