Graniteville, SC Chlorine Spill

Graniteville, SC Chlorine Spill




Graniteville, SC Chlorine Spill

  1. Summarize the Graniteville incident in the terms of the behavioral paradigm

The Graniteville incident happened in 2005. It led to the death of nine people and the displacement of more than 5000 people. The town had a rail spur, which received deliveries on chlorine gas daily. The person responsible for ensuring that the spur connected to the main line forgot to do so, and this led to a train crash on 6 January. The train crash happened when freight train 192 collided with a parked train after being diverted. This led to the spilling of the chlorine gas, which vaporized quickly and spread in the air. Many people were woken in the crash and they alerted 911 within a minute. The first responders and the emergency services responded quickly although they did not seem aware of what to do. Although the emergency service providers were aware of the need to evacuate people, they did not do so immediately. There was conflicting information concerning what people should do and some responders advised people to shelter in place. Some people saw and heard the reports concerning the incident on radio and television.

  1. Why would the population be more will to evacuate after a technological disaster rather than a natural disaster (i. e. hurricane or flood)?

People are more likely to evacuate based on how the anxiety they feel and how risky they perceive the disaster to be. Technological disasters have relative effects. Fewer people die when technological disasters happen than when natural disasters occur. Although the economic impact experienced is significant, it is low compared to the situation experienced during natural disasters. However, people tend to fear technological hazards such as nuclear disasters. The fear of a nuclear disaster happening will make people more willing to evacuate, even if prior notice has not been issued. In most situations involving natural disasters, people are more likely to wait for official evacuation orders, although this depends on the extremity of the disaster (Smith, 2013).

  1. Using the emergency response guidebook, what is the guide number and human hazard: health, protective clothing, and first aid? Find the ID number for large spills. What is the evacuation distance during night and day?

ID number-1017

Evacuation distance: Day-3.5km (22mi); Night-8.0km (5.0mi)

Protective clothing: Positive self-contained breathing apparatus, chemical resistant clothing

First Aid

  • Wear positive self-contained breathing apparatus
  • Move the victim from area of accident to an area where there is fresh air
  • call 911
  • administer artificial respiration if the victim has difficulty breathing
  • remove and isolate clothing and shoes that are contaminated
  • keep the victim warm and quiet
  • inform the medical personnel of the materials involved and ensure that they take measures to protect themselves (PHMSA, 2008)
  1. The media played an important role in the response. Provide one example for each:
  1. How did the media assist in a positive role?

The media assisted positively by making people aware of the disaster and conveying the relevant information to them. When the accident happened, announcements were made on the radio and television stations reported the news and this made people aware of what was going on. They were able to act on the information received and they took the necessary steps to save their lives.

  1. How did the media assist in a negative role? How can emergency managers remove or limit the negative effects of the media?

The media reported all the information received from diverse news sources. It gave accounts on the reports received from the victims, authorities, experts, and emergency responders. This information represented conflicting views. People could not depend on the information received and the media added to the confusion

  1. As an emergency manager, would you want everyone to evacuate at once? Why or why not?

I would not want the people to evacuate at once because this would lead to confusion. There are different categories of people needing help during evacuations and they do not have the same capabilities. One has to consider the special needs of the vulnerable members such as the elderly, children, physically challenged, the sick, and the pregnant. Evacuating systematically gives the emergency responders a chance to plan well. This ensures that people are not left behind and it allows the responders to examine the situation and to know the resources available.









PHMSA. (2008). Emergency response guidebook: a guidebook for first responders during initial phase of a dangerous goods/hazardous materials transportation incident. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Retrieved from

Smith, K. (2013). Environmental hazards: Assessing risk and reducing disaster. New York, NY: Routledge


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