Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

3.10 Difficulties in the Evacuation

3.10.1 Determination of the Chemical Involved

Initially, the emergency management officials did not know the chemicals that caused the explosion and fire. The fire department went through the Material Safety Data Sheets for the chemicals located at the Teris facility, determined the likely chemicals, and evacuated them based on the worst-case scenario.

3.10.2 Legal Actions

This is not a difficulty, but in one interview, it was mentioned that lawyers were filing class action lawsuits before the evacuation ended.

In addition, the sheriff mentioned that while the county jail was evacuated, he requested Teris to monitor the air quality of the jail facility in case a returning prisoner filed a lawsuit based on the evacuation.

While legal proceedings should not play a factor in an evacuation, due to the litigious nature of society, this action could eventually impact an evacuation somewhere in the future. In fact, while conducting the interviews, some information could not be provided to the interviewer due to the incident being under litigation.

3.10.3 Receipt of Information from Other Entities

The first 12 to 18 hours were smooth, but after that time, residents wanted to know when they could return home. To help facilitate the reentry of residents, the police department waited until the EPA informed them that conditions had improved and people could return home.

February 6, 2006
Publication #FHWA-HOP-08-014