Mahaska May Form Local Hazmat Team
by Amy Langdon
Mahaska County wants to start its own team for dealing with hazardous material.
When a large spill or leak happens now, the county turns to SERG, or Southeast Iowa Response Group, out of Ottumwa. It can take up to 2 hours for that team to respond and costs the county $18,000 per year. But Jamey Robinson, director of the Mahaska County Emergency Management Agency, says with some money up front, the county can keep those dollars within the community.
Robinson spoke to the Mahaska County Supervisors Wednesday asking for $85,000 to train employees and buy equipment so a Mahaska team can deal with any future hazardous waste spills. He says having a local team can have some big advantages.
“Quicker response, of course, so our citizens are taken care of quicker. Then having the equipment and the training here locally, so we’re not sending our tax dollars to another department for their resources,” says Robinson.
Robinson also spoke to the Oskaloosa City council in a work session Monday to make sure it was on board with forming the team since a majority of the team would consist of Oskaloosa firefighters who are employed by the city. Robinson says the firefighters he’s spoken with are anxious to better serve the community.
“They’re not able to go into those hot zones because of the lack of training and equipment, so by giving this to them they’re able to respond and serve their citizens better,” says Robinson.
The supervisors didn’t vote to approve the $85,000 to start the new team, but they said they did support it. Robinson says he was just making sure they were on board with the local hazmat team before he continued to plan.