UPDATES: SANTA TERESA HAZMAT SITUATION

UPDATES: SANTA TERESA HAZMAT SITUATION

Oct. 31, 2012, 6 a.m. As of 9:49 p.m. on Oct. 30, the Doña Ana County Industrial Park was reopened for business and the Doña Ana County Airport at Santa Teresa reopened to air traffic and personnel. Hazmat testing at the scene yielded no results. An investigation by the Doña Ana County Fire and Emergency Services Department and the New Mexico State Police remains underway to determine what made people ill at the industrial park on Oct. 30.

Oct. 30, 2012, 4:53 p.m. The Doña Ana County Industrial Park and the Doña Ana County Airport at Santa Teresa remain closed while the Hazmat investigation proceeds. Closures could remain in place overnight and into tomorrow.

Incident commanders and Santa Teresa High School management have completed an assessment of the day’s operations. Parents and relatives of Santa Teresa High School students have expressed concern about the high school’s involvement and the student body’s safety. Classes continued without interruption through the day, and the students were in no danger, either from the irritant in the industrial park or from the evacuees who were sent to the school during the time it was used as a temporary shelter. The safety of the school’s staff and students as the incident unfolded was never compromised.

The Las Cruces Fire Department has deployed the following resources to the Hazmat scene: four Hazardous Materials Technicians; one vehicle operator for Haz Mat-4; one Battalion Chief; LCFD Hazardous Materials Unit (Haz Mat-4); and the LCFD Hazardous Materials Mass Decontamination Unit.

The incident command staff has confirmed that the investigation initially centered at the FoamEx plant on the industrial park campus. The investigation is currently moving beyond that plant to other areas in the park nearby.

3:50 p.m. The Doña Ana County Emergency Operations Center has been deactivated, but will remain on standby in the event additional resources are needed. The field investigation remains active.

3:11 p.m. Incident Commander Wayne Massey at the Santa Teresa Hazmat site has requested assistance from the Las Cruces Fire Department’s Hazmat team. Lt. Kyle Boyd of LCFD is en route to the scene with city Hazmat personnel and equipment to assist in the investigation. The American Red Cross has been released from the scene.

2:08 p.m. New Mexico State Police have requested a civil-support team from the New Mexico National Guard to deploy to the Doña Ana County Industrial Park at Santa Teresa to assist with monitoring and testing. That team is en route. The Las Cruces Fire Department’s Hazmat team is standing by to provide assistance as requested.

1:53 p.m. The one-mile evacuation area around the Doña Ana County Industrial Park near the Santa Teresa Port of Entry has been lifted, and the temporary shelter at Santa Teresa High School has been deactivated. The industrial park itself remains evacuated. Hazmat crews remain in the industrial park taking samples to determine what might have sickened the individuals who sought and received treatment. The Doña Ana County Airport at Santa Teresa remains closed to air traffic.

NOTE: The Incident Commander has clarified at this time that the evacuation area was one mile in radius, rather than two as has been previously stated. Also, no private residences were in the evacuation zone.

11:47 a.m. UPDATE: The evacuation around the Doña Ana County Industrial Park is now complete. Approximately 100 evacuees are now sheltered at Santa Teresa High School. Hazmat teams are now entering the area to conduct field testing. The Incident-Response Staging Center is located at the intersection of McNutt and Airport Road. Media are being staged at the northeast corner of Pete V. Domenici Highway and Airport Road.

10:51 a.m. UPDATE: The Doña Ana County Emergency Operations Center has been partially activated, with personnel on hand from American Red Cross, New Mexico Environment Department, Doña Ana County Ham Radio Association, the Doña Ana County Public Information Office and the Doña Ana County Office of Emergency Management. All updates from this point forward will come from the Doña Ana County Emergency Operations Center.

10:16 a.m. UPDATE: The American Red Cross has been activated and is en route to Santa Teresa High School to assist with sheltering of evacuees.

10:12 a.m. UPDATE: The Doña Ana County Airport at Santa Teresa is closed to all air traffic and has been evacuated.

HAZ-MAT TEAMS ON SCENE IN SANTA TERESA; EVACUATION ZONE ESTABLISHED; 200 BEING TREATED FOR EXPOSURE TO UNKNOWN SUBSTANCE
Santa Teresa High School is being used as a shelter for evacuees in southern Doña Ana County, where a hazardous-materials incident is developing. Air-quality testing is underway to determine what is making people sick in the area.
The Doña Ana County Fire and Emergency Services Department Hazardous Materials Response Team has established a command post at Airport Road and the Pete V. Domenici Highway near the Doña Ana County Industrial Park and the Santa Teresa Port of Entry.
A mandatory evacuation is underway for a one-mile area surrounding the industrial park. Approximately 200 people have been treated for symptoms of difficulty breathing, light-headedness, nausea and dizziness. No serious injuries have been reported, and no one has yet been transported to area hospitals.
Earlier today, the Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch Authority sent a reverse 911 call to alert residents and businesses within two miles of the incident to remain indoors, seal all doors and windows and turn off air conditioning and heating systems that bring outside air into the home or business. That advisory has been lifted.
The exact nature of the incident remains under investigation by authorities. Travelers and the media are advised to avoid the area until authorities clear the area for traffic.
The Doña Ana County Emergency Operations Center is in partially activated status. Helicopters and equipment from various agencies in both Doña Ana County and El Paso County are standing by to assist if necessary.
Updates will be provided as more information is received.

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Reporters seeking more information or interviews may call the Doña Ana County Emergency Operation Center Public Information Desk at (575) 647-7914. THIS NUMBER IS NOT TO BE RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC. Thank you.