Description of Survey Data Regarding the Chemical Repackaging Plant Accident West Helena, Arkansas

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Description

Shortly after 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 8, 1997, clouds of foul-smelling smoke began pouring from an herbicide and pesticide packaging plant in West Helena, Arkansas. An alert was sounded, employees evacuated, and the West Helena fire department was called. As three firefighters prepared to enter the plant, the chemical compounds exploded, collapsing a solid concrete block wall, and killing all three firefighters. As the odorous smoky cloud drifted away from the plant, authorities ordered residents in a 2-mile area downwind of the plant to evacuate and those in the 2- to 3-mile zone to shelter in place. This study ... continued below

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Medium: P; Size: 56 pages

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Sorensen, J.H. & Vogt, B.M. March 1, 1999.

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Description

Shortly after 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 8, 1997, clouds of foul-smelling smoke began pouring from an herbicide and pesticide packaging plant in West Helena, Arkansas. An alert was sounded, employees evacuated, and the West Helena fire department was called. As three firefighters prepared to enter the plant, the chemical compounds exploded, collapsing a solid concrete block wall, and killing all three firefighters. As the odorous smoky cloud drifted away from the plant, authorities ordered residents in a 2-mile area downwind of the plant to evacuate and those in the 2- to 3-mile zone to shelter in place. This study examines and compares the responses to a mail survey of those ordered to evacuate and those told to shelter in place. Among the variables examined are compliance with official orders and perceived warnings, threat perception, time and source of first warning, response times, and behavior characteristics for both populations. The findings indicate that 90% of those that were told to evacuate did so but only 27% of those told to shelter-in-place did so, with 68% opting to evacuate instead. The implications of these findings for emergency managers is that people will likely choose to evacuate when both warnings to evacuate and warnings to shelter are issued to residents in close proximity to each other. The findings on warning times closely resemble other findings from evacuations when chemical accidents occur and route notification is used for warning residents.

Physical Description

Medium: P; Size: 56 pages

Notes

OSTI as DE00005889

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  • Other Information: PBD: 1 Mar 1999

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-13722
  • Grant Number: AC05-96OR22464
  • DOI: 10.2172/5889 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 5889
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc696306

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  • March 1, 1999

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Aug. 14, 2015, 8:43 a.m.

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  • Aug. 8, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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Sorensen, J.H. & Vogt, B.M. Description of Survey Data Regarding the Chemical Repackaging Plant Accident West Helena, Arkansas, report, March 1, 1999; Tennessee. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc696306/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.