The community of El Dorado is located in Union County in the south central part of Arkansas, close to the State of Louisiana border, and has approximately 25,000 residents. El Dorado is home to numerous chemical, manufacturing, and oil facilities. These facilities include Teris, Murphy Oil Corporation, ConAgra Foods, Georgia Pacific, Panda Energy International, Cooper/Standard Automotive, Prescolite (lighting manufacturer), Delta Timber Corporation, Anthony Forest Products Company, Great Lakes Chemical Corporation, Lion Oil Refining Company, and Del-Fin Fiber LLC (fiberboard manufacturer).
The El Dorado incident occurred at the Teris facility. Teris is an incineration and special handling facility of hazardous and non-regulated waste such as liquids, sludges, and hardened material. Teris is one of several chemical, manufacturing, and oil facilities located in the community.
In addition to the chemical, manufacturing, and oil facilities, in the community, there are seven nursing homes, two of which are located near the Teris facility, and a county jail, also located near the Teris facility.
In Union County, there is a Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). The Union County LEPC consists of representatives of elected officials, law enforcement, firefighting, emergency medical services, health care, and facilities subject to the emergency planning and community right-to-know requirements.
Members include the mayor of the City of El Dorado, El Dorado Water and Utilities, the Union County Health Unit, the sheriff of Union County, the Lion Oil Company, ProMed Ambulance, Murphy Oil, the Arkansas Department of Health, the Calion Fire Department and Water Works, Union County Judge, Cross Oil Company, the El Dorado School System, the El Dorado Fire Department, the Salvation Army, Teris, the El Dorado Police Department, the Union County Emergency Management Coordinator, and the Medical Center of South Arkansas. Monthly emergency planning meetings are held.
A primary responsibility of the LEPC is to help maintain the county emergency plan that outlines preparation and response to community emergencies, disasters, and domestic terrorism. The LEPC also serves as a focal point in Union County for information and discussions about hazardous substances, emergency planning, and health and environmental risks.The LEPC is active and schedules frequent disaster drills. For example, in a February 2005 tabletop exercise, the LEPC had a scenario of a pipeline explosion next to a nursing home. On September 23, 2005, there was an exercise based on the need for the bomb squad and HazMat response team. The draft scenario was as follows:
- Someone notices suspicious character and or package
- Places call to emergency services 911
- Police department responds
- First officer needs assistance and calls for SWAT team
- SWAT team arrives and takes out bad guys
- Bad guys injured and sent to Medical Center of South Arkansas
- Auto accident outside crime scene and injured sent to Medical Center of South Arkansas
- SWAT team discovers suspicious package/pipe
- Bomb squad notified
- El Dorado Fire Department hazmat team notified
- Bomb squad arrives and disarms device
- El Dorado Fire Department HazMat team sets up with decontamination bomb squad
- Crime scene turned over to terrorist investigation team
- Drill ends.
Union County also has a County Emergency Management Coordinator (CAMC) who is responsible for offering assistance and additional resources during emergencies such as manpower and equipment. The CAMC acts as a liaison between the local government and state during times of crisis. This individual co-chairs the LEPC.
February 6, 2006