Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

January 2, 2013

Marion County studying hazmat options

STEVE WOODHOUSE
Associated Press

KNOXVILLE — The future cleanup of any hazardous materials in Marion County is an open question right now.

For several years, Marion County has had an agreement with the City of Des Moines to provide hazardous material response in the event of a spill or another disaster that required cleanup. This agreement has become cost prohibitive; it would cost Marion County $50,000 a year to continue the agreement.

Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Anderson and former EMC Chair Ron Goemaat researched possible agreements with nearby agencies to provide the same service. None of these were cost-effective. The City of Ottumwa would charge $1 per capita for 10 years, which would cost roughly $34,000 annually just for the agreement.

Jasper County has equipment to provide support to Marion County at minimal cost. Marion County is forming a team to train to have the ability to respond first, then determine whether greater assistance from Jasper County would be necessary.

The 11-member emergency management commission, which includes all nine mayors in the county (or their selected proxy), plus a representative from the Marion County Board of Supervisors and the sheriff, still has research to do before its next scheduled meeting on Jan. 29. Anderson presented draft 28E agreements for the commission to sign with Jasper County, as well as pay proposals, a proposed structure for the team and individuals who have volunteered to join. 

Anderson's proposal for the team - which has not been finalized or adopted by the commission - would divide Marion County into three sectors, each with its own team leader. This is to help provide a faster response and, if a situation does not warrant calling all team members, take less manpower. 

The proposed pay scale is $16-$21 per hour for training for a team leader ($15-$20 for a hazmat technician) and $22-$27 an hour for responses by team leaders ($21-$26 for technicians). 

Hazmat team members would be required to take 40 hours of training in the first year. Annual training after that would be 24 hours. It is still unclear whether this would be 24 hours in addition to training hours firefighters already take.