RUMFORD – Following chemical leak incidents this past January and in May 2007 at NewPage Inc., several area responders and the Rumford paper mill itself conducted a practice drill earlier this month.

According to a recent report from Oxford County Emergency Management Agency Director Scott Parker, the June 1 drill focused on response to a chemical leak and injured workers.

Participants included Rumford and Mexico fire departments, Rumford police, and Med-Care Ambulance Service, the NewPage Hazmat Team, Rumford Hospital, Oxford County IMAT, the Oxford County Regional Communications Center, and Rumford Power Associates.

“NewPage Regional Hazmat Response Team did a superb job recovering injured workers, decontaminating the patient and fixing the leak at the plant,” Parker said.

“The response to this (drill) incident validated that Rumford Power Associates and the Rumford River Valley Responders are ready to get the job done now.”

Parker said fire Chief Richard Coulombe took the lead as incident commander and moved all assets into place to prepare and respond to the incident, which took four months to plan.

Coulombe established a complete incident command post using the county IMAT vehicle and Med-Care’s Car 10, then assembled an incident command crew. That consisted of himself, Chris Moretto as emergency medical services command, police Chief Stacy Carter as police command, Bill Hussey as NewPage liaison officer, Ken Dixon as safety officer, and Mexico fire Chief Gary Wentzell as public information officer.

Rumford Power Associates provided a liaison person with all necessary information to help the incident command post prepare for the response. Additionally, Rumford Hospital set up an incident command structure and Hazwhopper Team (for decontamination) as part of the response, Parker said.

He also recognized Rumford Power Associates for hosting the event.

Regarding the January incident, one employee was hospitalized due to a chlorine gas leak and released the following day. Another injured employee was treated at the scene. The chlorine dioxide solution was released into the air when a forklift truck hit a 2-inch plastic pipe carrying the chemical.

During the May 2007 incident, nine employees were taken to the hospital after an accidental mixing of two chemicals created a chemical reaction that resulted in a release of chlorine vapor.

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