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Countermeasures to Hazardous Chemicals,

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Recent major incidents involving the release of hazardous chemicals have heightened the awareness of both the public and the private sectors that effective strategies must be developed to prevent and to deal with emergencies. A number of federal, state, and local government agencies share portions of the responsibility for various aspects of the problem. With the very considerable overlap, as well as holes in the coverage, a study of this picture has been performed to review the entire collage of activities and to recommend appropriate roles for FEMA and other agencies. While the entire area of hazardous materials may require such a treatment, the most chronic needs for a strong direction are cases where an airborne hazard is involved. The materials might be in any form, but the means by which the threat overtakes people is such that little warning is possible and immediate means of protection are very limited. There are, in fact, many parallels to be drawn between airborne spread of hazardous chemicals and the airborne dispersion from a nuclear incident. Since these parallels exist and since the Federal Energy Management Administration FEMA has taken a leading role in preparedness for nuclear problems, it is natural that the experience and planning for hazardous materials, particularly airborne ones, should fall in that agency. However, the nature of the disasters which are possible and the short periods during which they occur make it absolutely mandatory that the responsibility for dealing with the problems in local entities must lie with the local authorities. kt

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  • Environmental Health and Safety

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