AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Wednesday Briefing: PG&E Launches Community Microgrid Enablement Program

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for April 14, 2021: The massive container ship, Ever Given, was impounded by Egyptian officials amid a disputed $916 million bill; Japan has approved the release into the ocean of wastewater from the now-defunct Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant; heavy ash fall from the continued eruption of the La Soufrière volcano has destroyed crops and contaminated water supply reservoirs on St. Vincent; two lots of Meow Mix were voluntarily recalled due to potential salmonella contamination; PG&E has launched its new Community Microgrid Enablement Program ahead of the 2021 wildfire season; nearly 70% of structures in Kalbarri were damaged when Tropical Cyclone Seroja slammed ashore; at least 12 people have been rescued from the water in the Gulf of Mexico after a lift vessel capsized amid a strong storm and high winds; and Colorado faces an extremely high danger wildfire season amid lower than normal snowfall amounts.

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1. Egypt has seized and impounded Evergreen’s massive container ship, the Ever Given, amid a financial dispute between the Suez Canal Authority and the vessel’s Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha. The $900 million fine includes compensation for losses incurred due to the canal blockage, along with maintenance fees and rescue operation costs. Late last month, the ship encountered technical difficulties and ran aground, completely blocking the Suez Canal and preventing the passage of any ships for nearly a week.

2. Japan announced that it has approved the ocean release of wastewater used to cool the now-defunct Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The wastewater will be filtered to remove most nuclear contaminates before being released into the ocean in 2023. A massive earthquake in 2011 triggered a powerful and devastating tsunami that swamped the nuclear plant, disabled the power supply and cooling systems, and led to the meltdown of all three reactors.

3. Heavy ash from the continued eruption of the La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent has destroyed crops and contaminated water supplies. Nearly 20,000 people evacuated the northern region of the island, where the volcano is located, and some evacuees are being housed in about 80 government shelters. Officials are asking for water and food supplies to sustain island residents and evacuees during the ongoing eruption. La Soufrière erupted explosively on Friday, and volcanologists noted that the eruption could last for weeks.

4. The J.M. Smucker company voluntarily recalled two lots of Meow Mix due to potential salmonella contamination. The recall is for 30-lb. bags of Meow Mix sold at Walmart stores in eight states — Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming. According to the company, there have been no reported pet illnesses due to the affected product.

5. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) launched the Community Microgrid Enablement Program on Tuesday in California. The community microgrid is designed with the ability to disconnect and reconnect to the grid for individual communities, addressing their unique needs. The microgrid program is comprised of a group of customers and distributed energy resources amid clearly defined electrical boundaries. It will ensure that community resources, such as hospitals, grocery stores, and gas stations, can maintain services off the main grid.

6. Tropical Cyclone Seroja slammed into the western coast of Australia on Sunday as a Category 3 cyclone, bringing heavy rainfall and powerful winds. The coastal town of Kalbarri sustained major damage, and the powerful cyclone cut off power to over 31,000 customers. Officials estimate that nearly 70% of structures in the town were damaged, and power restoration around the area is likely to take at least several days.

7. A powerful storm capsized a commercial lift boat vessel off the coast of Louisiana on Tuesday. The stormy conditions brought 75 mph winds and rough seas on the Gulf of Mexico, reportedly sending multiple people off several boats into the rough water. The Coast Guard was dispatched to assist Good Samaritan boats in their rescue of individuals in the water.  By Tuesday evening, the Coast Guard reported that a total of 12 people had been rescued; however, it remains unclear how many had actually fallen into the water.

8. Significantly less snowfall than average in Colorado over the last two winter seasons creates an extremely high wildfire danger this year for the state. According to snow measurements from local hydrologists, the early snowmelt and its runoff is likely to be way below average for the second consecutive year. The dry soil is absorbing more of the snowmelt, preventing it from flowing into local waterways, and experts warn that water conservation methods are likely this summer across much of the state.


Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.

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