St. Lawrence County Bringing Back Hazmat Team

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A combination of a paid and volunteer-member hazardous materials response team is being created to handle emergency incidents now that St. Lawrence County lawmakers approved reinstating funding for the group.

"What we're going to end up with is I think a very good system. It's going to be a hybrid of both the paid team that the city will keep and a volunteer team that they county will sponsor the training for," said Karen St. Hilaire, county administrator.

The county originally cut funding to the group in the current budget in an effort to save money.

But Monday night, legislators agreed to a one-year trial contract with the city of Ogdensburg to pay more than $17,000 for the services of 12 members from the fire and police departments.

Other volunteers from around the county will also be trained and added to the team.
 
"If there is a hazmat incident, we come to as we normally would to respond to that. In addition, we will provide training through the state that will be free. We'll try to organize to have all that training here in the county and that training will also be open to volunteers," said St. Hilaire.
 
The last time the county's hazmat team responded to an incident was for a chemical laboratory fire at SUNY Canton in  February 2012.

When an ammonia spill occurred on the SUNY Potsdam campus last month, fire and rescue workers waited several hours until neighboring hazmat teams from Jefferson and Franklin counties could respond to the scene.
 
County officials say the hazmat contract is currently being reviewed by attorneys for both the county and the city.

Barring any problems, the reactivation of the new team will occur once the necessary training certification is completed.
 

Thursday, November 27, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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