County clarifies number of Tier II hazard sites

RIO GRANDE COUNTY — In a meeting held on July 27, of the Rio Grande County Commissioners it was incorrectly stated that Rio Grande County had 13 Tier I hazard sites throughout the county.

In a statement on Sept. 9, Rio Grande County Emergency Manager Art Wittner clarified that the county only has five Tier II sites, and those sites will be included in the Hazard Mitigation Plan that is currently in the works and nearing completion. The information was reported during the 2022 Local and Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) conference in accordance with CDPHE reporting guidelines.

Reporting accurate information on potentially hazardous sites in locations around the US is common practice. According to the EPA, a Tier II site involves reporting of hazardous material which can include propane, fertilizer and other material that is found around the country and is reported in tiers according to the amount of the material at any specific location.

“It was previously stated that there were 13 but that is not the case, and the corrected information has been included in the Hazard Mitigation Plan,” said Rio Grande County Commissioner Scott Deacon. Surveys about the plan have been sent out to all local officials including commissioners, the sheriff, first responders and anyone who would help in the event of an emergency.

The process for the Hazard Mitigation Plan begins at the local level and works its way through state and federal government before it is approved and completed. It identifies local and state hazard risk and how each community would deal with emergencies on the local level before other state and federal resources are brought in during an emergency.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), several steps are taken to create a hazard mitigation plan. The current plan is in the final stages prior to approval through FEMA. State and local governments work together to begin the planning process, gather resources, assess risks in a location, develop a mitigation strategy and finally adopt and implement the plan.

Once the plan is in place, should an emergency occur, the plan will determine how much local agencies can handle before more aid is brought in from state and federal resources. The plan includes communication protocols and other tools that help officials respond in the event of an emergency. This also includes the classification and identification of tier I and tier II locations throughout an area.

Once the plan is finished and approved by all local and state officials it will be submitted to FEMA for approval and implementation. For more information, contact Wittner at [email protected].

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