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Decontamination facilities, Hazmat on scene of mudslide search

Monday, March 31, 2014 - 01:17

March 31 - Recovery teams at the site of the devastating landslide in Washington state must be decontaminated when exiting their vehicles, as a massive search effort continues. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Recovery teams struggling through thick mud, up to their armpits, and heavy downpours at the site of the devastating landslide in Washington state are facing yet another challenge - an unseen and potentially dangerous stew of toxic contaminants. During a press conference Monday (March 31) Steve Harris, division supervisor for the eastern incident management team, said Hazmat staff are on scene. "And also we have decontamination facilities set up. Everybody that goes out to the incident scene, that gets out of the vehicle, needs to be decontaminated," said Harris. Sewage, propane, household solvents and other chemicals lie beneath the surface of the gray mud and rubble that engulfed hundreds of acres of a small, rural community and left dozens dead and missing northeast of Seattle on the morning of March 22. The official death toll stood at 21 on Monday, with 30 people still listed as unaccounted for, nine days after a rain-soaked hillside collapsed above the north fork of the Stillaguamish River. The torrent of mud released by the slide roared over both stream banks and across state Highway 530, flattening dozens of homes on the outskirts of the town of Oso in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. "There's a lot of work to be done yet... It's very deep in places - kind of the average out there in the middle is 30 feet," said Harris. Jason Biermann, program manager for the Snohomish County Emergency Management Department, said late on Sunday that the official loss of life so far included 15 victims whose remains have been identified by medical examiners, and six more still awaiting positive identification. During the press conference Monday, Steve Harris added; "Correct to say that it's very difficult in some of the finds they are having to make with identification. That's why we have the professionals with the medical examiners office and those folks there to make positive identifications."

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Decontamination facilities, Hazmat on scene of mudslide search

Monday, March 31, 2014 - 01:17