September is National Preparedness Monthbut at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), emergency preparedness happens year-round.
So far in 2022, EGLE has received 1,600 Pollution Emergency Alert System (PEAS) notifications. EGLE participated in five major events this year:
- Liberation of the St. Mary’s River
- Highly pathogenic avian influenza
- Flint River Liberation
- Release of the Huron River
- Great Lakes Water Authority line cut
Jay Eickholt, emergency management coordinator at EGLE, says preparedness and training for all kinds of environmental emergencies is paramount. This was the subject of a two-day seminar conference in Lansing in June of this year – the first such conference organized by EGLE.
An EGLE staff member takes a water sample from the Huron River after a hexachrome release.
The conference drew people from all over Michigan and demonstrated that the state has some of the best experts in the country, Eickholt says. After years of virtual meetings during the pandemic, the in-person conference has made experts available to answer questions and provide real-life case studies to be better informed and prepared for future threats to the environment and public health. .
EGLE also participates in and leads emergency drills across the state. During preparation exercises for radiological incidents in nuclear power plants, EGLE’s Radiation Protection Section provides its expertise and guides the State Emergency Operations Center throughout the exercise scenario. The exercises allow personnel from across the department to prepare for various nuclear release scenarios.
In addition, EGLE participated in the deployment of equipment in Rogers City, which simulated a release of hazardous materials into the water. This Coast Guard-led exercise allowed personnel to participate in real-world hands-on experience with government and industry response organizations for release containment and recovery.
Environmental emergency callers use EGLE’s 24/7 PEAS hotline (1-800-662-9278), which has been in continuous service since 1975.