Supporting Emergency Planners and Decision-Makers
The management of debris and waste from a wide-area radiological incident would likely constitute a significant percentage of the total remediation cost and effort. ERG is supporting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) National Homeland Security Research Center and Radiation Protection Division in developing the Waste Estimation Support Tool (WEST), a unique decision support tool for estimating the potential volume and radioactivity levels of waste generated by a radiological incident and subsequent remediation and decontamination efforts. WEST was developed to support emergency planners and decision-makers by generating first-order estimates of the quantity, characteristics, and levels of contamination of the waste and debris resulting from a radiological incident. In addition to identifying waste streams, the tool further supports wide-area remediation by modeling the implications of selected response and cleanup approaches.
Building a Disposal Decision Support Tool
ERG built a decision support tool that gives government officials managing incident cleanup efforts the information they need to make well-informed waste disposal decisions. Developed for EPA’s National Homeland Security Research Center, the tool provides critical information related to all aspects of solid, hazardous, and radiological waste disposal in response to an incident of national significance. Initially developed to address disposal of chemically and biologically contaminated building materials, the utility and modular design of the tool led to the development of modules for natural disaster debris, contaminated drinking water system waste, radiological dispersion device (dirty bomb) waste, and diseased animal carcasses. The decision support tool provides context-sensitive information related to waste staging, packaging, transportation, disposal options, and associated worker protections.
Developing an Emergency Responder Health and Safety Manual
To meet the challenges of a post-9/11 era, EPA saw the need for a nationally consistent, mission-ready workforce. Toward that end, ERG helped EPA develop an emergency responder health and safety (H&S) manual that promotes a consistent approach to health and safety across the agency. The manual includes quick reference guides for EPA emergency responders, assigns clear roles and responsibilities, and equips EPA emergency responders with tools to develop effective, site-specific H&S plans. Topics covered in the manual include medical surveillance; respiratory protection; personal protective equipment; radiation safety; physical stress; confined spaces; injury, illness, and exposure reporting; bloodborne pathogens; and transportation safety. To supplement the manual, ERG also developed training for EPA personnel who implement regional H&S programs.
Designing the Enhanced Hurricane e-Matrix Website
An ERG-designed website helped protect workers during the response efforts for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) asked ERG to develop the enhanced e-Matrix website, which describes key hurricane-related risks and hazards that workers might encounter, such as downed power lines and trees, high volumes of debris, and buildings with compromised structural integrity. The e-Matrix also highlights recommended work practices and personal protective equipment, and outlines key provisions of applicable standards vital to response and recovery activities. Developed in a matrix format, the website enables employers to conduct more detailed job hazard analyses and make better decisions about worker health and safety.