Two hydrogen tanks exploded near the Greater Rochester International Airport this afternoon. The tanks are part of an alternative/green fuel re-fueling center that includes refueling for hydrogen cars. The cause of the explosion is not known as of yet. Two injuries were reported and the airport was closed for a short period of time. News coverage from WHAM 13, YNN Rochester, WHAM 1180, and WHEC 10 all covered the event. The video from most stations showed dark black smoke from behind a truck, no fire was visible. The event was over in about two hours and the airport was reopened without further incident.
What is not being talked about is the fact that directly across the street is the Public Safety Training Facility (PSTF). As the name implies, this is the main training hub for police and fire departments in the region as well as home to the local paramedic training program. Interestingly, the Monroe County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is located on the second floor of this building as well.
Before I go on, you should know that the airport was there long before the PSTF was created out of the old City of Rochester Fire Department building and training center that was in place since the 1950's. The EOC was added along with the PSTF sometime in the late 1980's. Way back then I knew little about emergency management (nor did I care to) but remember wondering why would you put a training facility and the EOC so close to the airport?
So, today I question even more than ever why the EOC and training center are located there...or why were the hazards allowed to be build so close to this building of critical infrastructure? There were two injuries related to this explosion along with all major roads surrounding the airport being closed.
Lets think this over...all the roads to the airport closed...EOC located near airport...explosion near airport...EOC near airport...Get the picture? This one event crippled the ability of Monroe County to utilize their state-of-the-art EOC. It could have been destroyed. At any given time there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of responders in and around the PSTF. They could have been killed.
So, again, my question is why have the hazards been allowed to grow within sight of the EOC? Could nobody else see the threat changing and hazards increasing! A threat assessment and hazards assessment is an on-going process.