The Technological Hazards Unit coordinates the State’s effort to enhance the emergency preparedness and response capabilities of communities throughout Texas. Key programs supporting these efforts include the Agreement-in-Principal (AIP)/Pantex program, Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) Grant program, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) program, and the Radiological Emergency Preparedness (REP) program.
Examples of technological hazards may include industrial pollution, nuclear radiation, toxic wastes, dam failures, transportation accidents, factory explosions, fires, and chemical spills. Technological hazards also may arise directly as a result of the impacts of a natural hazard or man-made incident or event.
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 Health 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.
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.
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.
Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC)
LEPC’s help protect their communities from potential hazardous materials incidents as well as provide guidance to the community. LEPC’s also play a lead role in hazardous materials emergency planning.
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
Course Registration Period
The Technological Hazards Unit utilizes a fixed course registration period to create the upcoming fiscal year’s training calendar. The registration period opens July 1st at 8:00 am (CDT), during which agencies are permitted to submit requests for courses for the upcoming fiscal year. The registration period will remain open until September 30th at 5:00 pm (CDT).
Please note: Not all course requests submitted will be approved for funding.
Courses will continue to be scheduled during this period until all the funding has been allocated. At that time all pending course requests will be moved to the waitlist.
Agencies are responsible for the accuracy of the information on their course registration.
Please note: Any course request submitted after the period closes will be placed on the waiting list in the order that it was received. The Technological Hazards Unit will not accept any course requests submitted before the designated start time of the course registration period.
Students can browse and register for hazardous materials courses here. Search the TDEM classroom catalog for available hazardous materials courses.
When does the Fiscal Year run?
The Fiscal Year runs from October 1st, 2020 through September 30th, 2021.
How do you select what classes are approved for funding?
The Technological Hazards Unit Training Officer takes course requests on a first-come, first-served basis using an electronic timestamp in PreparingTexas.org. The Training Officer will not hold, reserve, or promise courses or funding for courses outside of this process. This timestamp is applied to all applications at the time of submission.
Why did my course go to the waitlist?
We receive a heavy volume of training requests, but due to finite funding, we are unable to fulfill every request. Once the threshold of allotted grant funds has been met, all remaining classes are placed on the waiting list in the order they were received.
My requested course is on the waitlist, now what?
As classes are scheduled, they are initially funded for maximum student attendance. Not every class will be full, leaving some budgeted funding left over. Those funds are then used throughout the year to schedule classes from the waitlist.
Do you schedule classes from the waitlist?
Yes, some years have more classes than others scheduled from the waitlist depending on the funds available.
I was contacted about my waitlist class, what do I do now?
The Training Officer will contact the department’s point of contact via the information provided on the course request. Although agencies have placed requested delivery dates on their course request, the Training Officer will inquire if the agency is still interested in hosting the course, even if the delivery request date has passed. If the agency is still interested, the agency will have two (2) business days from date of notification to provide the Training Officer with two dates the agency would like to host the course (e.g. if you are contacted on Monday, your submission of dates will be needed by 5:00 pm (CDT) Wednesday). Those dates will be forwarded to the contracted training provider. The Training Officer will remain in contact with the agency and once a date is agreed upon, the class will be posted on PTO.
If the agency is no longer interested in hosting the requested course, the next agency on the list will be contacted.
Will submitting multiple requests give me a better chance of having my request fulfilled?
No. Agencies that submit multiple requests for the same class could have subsequent requests merged into the original request or could be denied.
My agency did not allocate funding for training, will TDEM provide funding?
Due to providing no-cost training across the state, TDEM does not supplement training budgets for any agency. This ensures courses are offered fairly to all agencies.
Do smaller agencies get to host courses or only larger agencies?
Any agency can host any of our classes as long as they have access to the available classroom space and (if needed) exercise space required for the respective course they are requesting to host. We hold classes all over the state with our hosts ranging from small departments to large metropolitan departments.
When I host a course, is it restricted to my employees or do my employees get priority registration?
All courses that are offered through the HMEP grant are open to all Texas first responders, public works, and government officials as any potential prerequisites and course requirements allow. To ensure fairness, TDEM staff does not hold, block out, or promise any course student slots. Additionally, all students who wish to take the course are required to register through PTO where the applications are reviewed and vetted on a first-come, first-serve basis. The PTO website has a timestamp that is applied upon the submission of applications. This timestamp is used when reviewing training course requests and student applications to ensure fairness to everyone.
After I submit my course request, am I able to correspond directly with the contract training provider when scheduling dates or making adjustments to the requested course?
No, all departments that request a course through TDEM must correspond with the Training Officer only. The Training Officer will serve as the liaison between the requesting department and the contract training provider. This ensures that the Training Officer has oversight of the scheduling/approval process of courses.
David Cella, Unit Supervisor