Disastrous Beirut Explosion Proves a Point

Disasters like the horrific explosion in Beirut are the exact reason why the 2004 RCMP Expert Panel outright rejected Halifax Regional Municipality as the location for the RCMP 911 emergency communication center in Nova Scotia.

Disasters like the horrific explosion in Beirut are also why all leading authorities in emergency communications require that there to be “geographic separation” between 911 emergency communication centers.

The proposed RCMP plan to eliminate “geographic separation” in Nova Scotia by co-locating both major police 911 communication centers in one community does not meet those international standards and puts all Nova Scotians at unnecessary risk. It is a sub-standard emergency communications system.

Disasters like the horrific explosion in Beirut are also why all leading authorities like Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Emergency Number Association reject locations near dangerous facilities. A quote from the FEMA Manual specifically says that 911 emergency communication centers should not be “near hazardous materials sites or nuclear power facilities”.

Ironically, the RCMP are proposing to put their 911 emergency communication center exactly between the Department of National Defense Ammunition Storage facility, and the Canadian Forces Base Shearwater nuclear submarine dock in Dartmouth. This is the ultimate “hazardous materials site”, and the CFB nuclear submarine base hosts nuclear subs from Britain, U.S. and France. The RCMP co-location plan exactly contravenes the FEMA standards and is a sub-standard emergency communications system.

Below you can see the quotes from abridged CBC articles describing just some of the risks to Nova Scotia stressed by DND and FEMA.

Under the RCMP plan, both emergency communication centers and the RCMP Headquarters would all be in the same community which could mean a total province-wide breakdown of emergency communication and emergency leadership at the time that they are needed most.

The attached maps show the system adopted in 2004 compared the proposed sub-standard system that will place where the three major police emergency response facilities on one community against all international standards.

Map 3 shows the concentration of the three 911 emergency communication and RCMP management facilities which will be surrounded by hazardous materials sites and nuclear submarine facilities. This is the opposite of international standards.

Ask yourself…does it make sense to concentrate all of the Nova Scotia police emergency communication and police leadership in one community?

Does it make sense to locate them all next to the greatest concentration of hazardous materials sites and risks in Atlantic Canada?

Is Nova Scotia just Halifax Regional Municipality?

This RCMP decision was made in order to fill some empty office space in the Dartmouth RCMP building and proves that the RCMP places office preferences as a higher priority than emergency communications safety. Experience has proven that emergency communications should be considered the top priority, not an inconvenience.

I urge all politicians at all levels to be informed about the risks surrounding this sub-standard 911 emergency communication plan for Nova Scotia, and speak out against this dangerous RCMP move if they agree that Nova Scotia should not have all of our emergency eggs in one dangerous basket.

Bill Casey

902 397 1305

Note: The 1917 Halifax explosion was equivalent to 2.9 tons of TNT. (Wikipedia)
The 2020 Beirut explosion was equivalent to 1.1 tons of TNT. (Wikipedia)

One CBC Example of Hazardous Material Risk for Dartmouth
Highlights from CBC Article from 2017

Nova Scotia·CBC Investigates

Catastrophic fire ‘will likely occur’ at Halifax explosives depot, military report says

Military officials say risk of a fire might be high, but the risk of an explosion is low

Brett Ruskin · CBC News · Posted: Feb 09, 2017 6:00 AM AT | Last Updated: February 9, 2017

Death, property destruction and severe environmental damage could result from a fire that “will likely occur sometime” at an ammunition depot in the Halifax area, according to an internal military report.

The military assessed the fire risk for the Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot in Bedford, N.S., and prepared a report in 2015 that was recently obtained by CBC News.

It concluded a fire will likely occur there, could be “catastrophic,” and “may cause death of personnel, severe loss of operational capability, destruction of property or severe environmental damage.”

“But if you have an entire magazine building go up, you’re going to be causing damage for kilometres,” he told CBC News.

The depot’s own emergency response guide says non-essential personnel should evacuate 800 to 1,300 metres from fires involving Class 1.1 explosives. That evacuation radius would include Magazine Hill — a major traffic artery near Bedford — as well as part of a residential area.

A source with knowledge of potential risks at the site, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said an evacuation resulting from a serious fire at the Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot in Bedford could affect everything within a five-kilometre radius.

“I would evacuate all of Bedford, half of Sackville, all of Burnside, Fairview, and [the north end] up to the Macdonald Bridge,” the source said.

Halifax has a history of explosive events — most notably the explosion in 1917 following a collision in the harbour involving two ships. There was also a lesser-known incident at CFAD Bedford in 1945. A fire started on the jetty, which sparked a series of explosions that lasted two days and blew out nearly every window in the city.

Bill’s Note: Such an evacuation would include evacuating the proposed RCMP Emergency Communication Center and the RCMP Management and Headquarters FIRST. Who would then manage and co-ordinate public evacuations and emergencies if these two offices were closed first under this planned evacuation? Crazy plan.

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2 Responses to Disastrous Beirut Explosion Proves a Point

  1. cheryl fraser says:

    I was shocked to hear about this, it is madness to store these ammunitions so close to residential areas, and then to compound their error by putting all the emergences response communications and headquarters there is beyond reprehensible. We have been through these kinds of explosions many years ago and it’s like we have learned nothing from them. What can we do to stop this?

    • Bill Casey says:

      Thanks Cheryl. i am 100% convinced that this plan puts all Nova Scotians at risk and should be changed. I would urge you to write to Minister of Pubic Safety Hon Bill Blair in Ottawa and Provincial Minister Hon Mark Furey in Halifax. Bill

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