Legislature(2001 - 2002)

03/05/2002 03:22 PM MLV

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 324-HOMELAND SECURITY APPROPRIATIONS                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
[Contains testimony on HB 51]                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1774                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CHENAULT announced the final  order of business, HOUSE BILL                                                               
NO.  324, "An  Act making  supplemental and  other appropriations                                                               
for homeland security; and providing for an effective date."                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  CHENAULT informed  participants that  the committee  would                                                               
consider Items 23-28 [of the  document "Terrorism Disaster Policy                                                               
Cabinet:   Cost Estimates  for Highest  Priority Recommendation,"                                                               
dated  1/14/02], which  is for  the  Department of  Environmental                                                               
Conservation.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1802                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MIKE  CONWAY, Director,  Division  of  Statewide Public  Service,                                                               
Department of Environmental  Conservation (DEC), informed members                                                               
that  he'd   provided  a  copy   of  a  summary  sheet   for  the                                                               
Environmental Health Laboratory.  That  is an item not listed for                                                               
funding from  HB 324; it's  listed there as a  critical component                                                               
of  the homeland  security net.   He  said he  believes that  the                                                               
Department  of  Health &  Social  Services  has other  laboratory                                                               
items  under its  items.   The  Environmental Health  Laboratory,                                                               
however,  is  sitting  in  HB  51  and  is  before  both  finance                                                               
committees  as  a  bonding  measure  based  upon  its  standalone                                                               
merits.  He explained that  there's a breakdown, so the committee                                                               
can see the functions of the laboratory.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWAY  said [the  laboratory] has  a peacetime  mission that                                                               
also carries over  in the event of a weapons  of mass destruction                                                               
attack,  in which  the department  would have  the capability  to                                                               
look at  the food and  water sources and  know if there  had been                                                               
any contamination.   Since September  11 [2001  terrorist attacks                                                               
on the  East Coast], water  contamination is not just  limited to                                                               
those  kinds of  attacks.    He informed  the  members there's  a                                                               
pending case  against somebody who  has threatened  the Anchorage                                                               
water   supply   system   going  through   criminal   proceedings                                                               
currently.   He also  reported there  was a  case in  The Dalles,                                                               
Oregon several years  ago in which 751 people were  made sick.  A                                                               
group was  trying to affect  a local election and  contaminated a                                                               
salad bar so people wouldn't make it out for the election.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CONWAY noted  that other  peacetime missions  the department                                                               
has been involved in include  testing food when tourists on buses                                                               
have gotten  sick, testing shellfish for  different diseases, and                                                               
performing  dairy inspections  that  allows Alaska's  milk to  be                                                               
sold commercially to the military, for instance.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1967                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  CHENAULT  referred to  Item  25  ["Increase DEC  emergency                                                               
alert status  to 24  hours per day  with six  additional response                                                               
corps staff"] and asked for a rundown on it.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWAY explained that the  six positions and 24-hour response                                                               
capability is  not associated with  the laboratory, but  would be                                                               
part  of  DEC's Division  of  Spill  Prevention and  Response  to                                                               
augment  the  existing staff  and  capabilities  for response  to                                                               
hazardous  materials incidences  and  spills.   These six  people                                                               
would work with communities around  the state, the DEC, and other                                                               
agencies in preparedness  for a capability to  respond to weapons                                                               
of mass  destruction incidences.  Currently,  he explained, there                                                               
is  a peacetime  function for  oil  and substances  spills.   The                                                               
resources presently available are dedicated  to doing that at the                                                               
current level  of activities.   He  indicated that  new expertise                                                               
and new  equipment are needed to  address the idea of  weapons of                                                               
mass destruction.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 2108                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN asked  about the  $100,000 for  fiscal year                                                               
2003.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CONWAY replied  that the  $100,000  is a  one-time cost  for                                                               
equipping and  training the whole  group.  The other  amounts are                                                               
for the personal  services for the staff.  The  first $250,000 is                                                               
for the remaining fiscal year.   If the supplemental is approved,                                                               
the $600,000 is the ongoing annual amount.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said that's $100,000 per person.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWAY answered  that $100,000 per responder  is typical when                                                               
looking at the salaries, equipment, and training.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 2160                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWAY  replied to Representative Green's  question that [the                                                               
staff]  are   environmental  specialists.    He   explained  that                                                               
$100,000 is  the current  rate now for  oil spill  responders and                                                               
hazardous  chemical responders.   To  maintain the  capability to                                                               
operate the  equipment, there is continual  training required for                                                               
different levels of "HAZMAT"  [hazardous materials] response, and                                                               
that's the going rate.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2190                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked what they do in between threats.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CONWAY answered  that they  are responding  to spills  right                                                               
now.   The  group being  asked  for [in  Item 25]  are not  doing                                                               
anything  with weapons  of mass  destruction.   This  is done  in                                                               
anticipation of those attacks.   The existing group of responders                                                               
are  responding to  spills.   He  reported that  there are  about                                                               
2,500 spills  reported a  year; within that,  there is  a ranking                                                               
and an assessment process on the spills responded to.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWAY clarified  that the people being asked for  in Item 25                                                               
will be dedicated to weapons of mass destruction responses.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN  asked  if  these people  will  be  sitting                                                               
around waiting for something to happen.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWAY answered that they  will continually be operating with                                                               
training communities,  writing up  the plans,  preparing drilling                                                               
exercises,  and  doing   all  of  the  activities   that  a  fire                                                               
department does while waiting for a fire to happen.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 2282                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWAY referred  to Item 74 under the  Department of Military                                                               
&  Veterans'   Affairs  ["Hazardous  Materials   Response  Teams:                                                               
Provide  training, trucks,  and  [equipment] for  2  new Level  A                                                               
HAZMAT  teams  in Valdez  and  in  Juneau to  service  Southeast;                                                               
Provide  Alaska-specific  detection,  identification  and  safety                                                               
equipment for 103d  CST (WMD) [Civilian Support  Team for Weapons                                                               
of  Mass Destruction];  and provide  WMD advanced  level training                                                               
for the  Fairbanks HAZMAT  team"] and said  that would  make four                                                               
teams  that   require  considerable  training,   exercising,  and                                                               
planning,  which are  typical emergency  preparedness activities.                                                               
He  indicated  that they  are  not  going  to be  sitting  around                                                               
waiting  for weapons  of mass  destruction incidences  to happen;                                                               
they  are   going  to  be   preparing.    They  will   work  with                                                               
municipalities, federal  agencies, the  civil support  team under                                                               
the National  Guard, and the  whole network of responders  in the                                                               
event of an attack.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 2345                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked  how they would fit in  with the other                                                               
agencies when there  is a problem.  He wondered  if there was any                                                               
duplication.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CONWAY   replied  that  nobody  duplicates   services  in  a                                                               
response;  they all  come together  through the  incident command                                                               
system.   They would  be assigned  specific duties  as part  of a                                                               
joint incident  command system.   He explained  that it  would be                                                               
the same  as for a North  Slope spill.  There  are not standalone                                                               
capabilities  for  the  state;  they would  fit  in  with  local,                                                               
federal, and other state agency responders.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN  asked  if they  would  be  "geographically                                                               
spread" or would they be stationed in one area.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CONWAY  said that  the  assignments  of figuring  out  where                                                               
they'll be  hasn't been decided yet.   He offered to  get back to                                                               
him on that.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2421                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN wondered how the number six came up.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CONWAY  explained  that  the  state  emergency  coordination                                                               
center activates during  the time of a response  and will require                                                               
a 24-hour  watch capability, so  [the department] was  looking at                                                               
the  capability   to  augment  the  other   four  response  teams                                                               
throughout  the  state  and  have  two  positions  in  the  state                                                               
emergency coordination center at Fort Richardson.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 2490                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CONWAY referred  to Item  26, Decontamination  Equipment for                                                               
People  Exposed  to  Hazardous  Materials,  and  Item  27  ["Pre-                                                               
position  decontamination  foam and  trailers  in  six cities  to                                                               
serve  regions throughout  the state  and  obtain six  [fly-away]                                                               
decontamination  sets"].   He  told members  that  both of  these                                                               
items are  related to  responding to  and assisting  citizens who                                                               
are exposed to weapons of  mass destruction, either biological or                                                               
chemical agents.   The targets for a lot of  these attacks can be                                                               
several thousand  people, and there's  no capability  existing in                                                               
the  state to  get the  decontamination  equipment to  them.   He                                                               
explained that there is a two-way  approach to this:  1) In major                                                               
areas  of population,  Fairbanks,  Anchorage,  and Juneau,  there                                                               
would  be  a fixed  capability  there,  to rapidly  decontaminate                                                               
people  who  are  exposed  in  the event,  and  2)  a  deployment                                                               
capability located where the fixed  ones are in which there would                                                               
be  trailers  and  "airliftable"  things   to  get  to  a  remote                                                               
community.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 2569                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CHENAULT  asked Mr. Conway to  explain what decontamination                                                               
foam is.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWAY answered  that it is a chemical foam  used to spray on                                                               
equipment  and  in  buildings  to  attack  the  biological  agent                                                               
attached to things, neutralize, and destroy it.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2640                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CHENAULT  surmised that  the six  fly-a-way decontamination                                                               
sets would include all the materials  needed in case of some type                                                               
of biological attack.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWAY  indicated yes, it  would include the equipment.   The                                                               
equipment packages  would basically  be large capacity  hot water                                                               
heaters,   inflatable   shelters,   tents,  heaters,   and   mass                                                               
decontamination privacy  kits.   He noted  these things  were for                                                               
decontamination  of  the  people  affected.     In  answer  to  a                                                               
question,  he told  the Chair  that the  suits and  that sort  of                                                               
thing come under the other items for the responders.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 2722                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked what the  person in Anchorage used for                                                               
threatening the drinking water.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWAY said  he had limited knowledge of it,  but there was a                                                               
threat by  somebody who was  angry about something and  told some                                                               
people  he  was going  to  poison  the Anchorage  drinking  water                                                               
system.  He was arrested and the case is in process.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWAY responded to a  question from Representative Green and                                                               
said  the assessments  would look  at the  inroads that  somebody                                                               
would  try  to use  who  wanted  to  contaminate the  system  and                                                               
further, to be able to detect [the contaminant].                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2774                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if there is any ongoing testing now.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWAY  replied that the  larger municipalities  have ongoing                                                               
increased security and are testing.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CHENAULT  asked if the  assessments would be done  for most                                                               
of the public drinking water systems.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 2859                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CONWAY  explained  that  the  large  public  drinking  water                                                               
systems  are being  looked at,  and  they are  attempting to  get                                                               
federal funds to do it.   He indicated that until the assessments                                                               
are done,  the department won't know  what to buy.   He indicated                                                               
that federal  money is  expected for  upgrading the  security and                                                               
detection systems on drinking water systems.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2892                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI  asked how  what the [Anchorage  Water &                                                               
Wastewater Utility]  does to  ensure that  its drinking  water is                                                               
safe  on   a  daily   basis  would  be   any  different   from  a                                                               
vulnerability assessment.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWAY  answered that  [the department]  has worked  with the                                                               
municipalities  and said  it would  try to  get the  money to  do                                                               
that,  and it  will be  passed out  to them.   The  vulnerability                                                               
assessments   would  be   done   under  the   direction  of   the                                                               
municipalities.      In   the  current   structure,   the   local                                                               
municipalities  are  responsible  for  their systems.    The  DEC                                                               
provides some  oversight, but the municipalities  don't report to                                                               
DEC; they're not subservient, and  DEC doesn't direct them on how                                                               
to do that.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 2972                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI asked if  the municipalities are already                                                               
doing it, why does the legislature  need to give them money.  She                                                               
wondered   if   there  is   a   different   component  when   the                                                               
vulnerability is  assessed than what  is done to ensure  that the                                                               
drinking water is safe.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWAY  reminded her that  what they have been  talking about                                                               
today is for weapons of mass destruction.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 02-14, SIDE B                                                                                                              
Number 2968                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CONWAY said  [the  municipalities]  haven't been  addressing                                                               
things for weapons of mass destruction.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI  said they  must do  a daily  testing to                                                               
make sure there  aren't weird things in it.   She offered that if                                                               
there were some  type of chemical agent, she thought  it would be                                                               
picked up.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWAY agreed  that they are testing for  things they expect.                                                               
He said,  "We don't know what  the biological agents would  be or                                                               
the chemicals that they might use.   We need to find that out and                                                               
then be able to see if we would be able to detect it."                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
[HB 324 was held over.]                                                                                                         

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