Spills, solar farm safety on EMA agenda

By Tim Colliver - [email protected]

The Highland County Emergency Management Agency renewed and reviewed its commitment to public safety during the Thursday meeting of the Local Emergency Planning Committee at the North High Business Center in Hillsboro.

One of the objectives the agency is charged with in its by-laws is to “lessen the impact of hazardous materials incidents and events to the general public, industry and emergency responders of Highland County,” with two such incidents happening Wednesday afternoon alone.

David Bushelman, Highland County EMA director, said that a Wednesday accidental spill of sulfuric acid at Weastec was minor, and that first responders and those involved in a two-vehicle collision on U.S. Route 50 in Hoagland later that afternoon “got lucky.”

In the Weastec accident, he said a semi-truck driver pulled his rig out from the loading dock before a forklift could be removed from the trailer, and the driver quickly stopped the vehicle after repeated warnings from the forklift operator, who exited off the lift truck.

“When the driver of the semi went to back up to the dock, he hit his brakes a little too hard and dumped the fork-lift out of the back,” Bushelman said. “When we got there the forklift had overturned and battery acid had spilled onto the parking lot area since it was a battery-powered lift.”

He said the EMA also responded to the crash on U.S. 50 in Hoagland since dispatchers indicated it was a collision between a car and a semi, which he said usually involves a spill of gasoline or diesel fuel.

In other matters before the committee, Bushelman said he attended numerous meetings in regard to the solar panel farms proposed for construction in southern Highland County, helping to coordinate safety plans and conducting a training session with area fire departments.

He said upward of 55 firefighters participated in the training, and reported minimal hazardous materials concerns regarding the solar farms, which could see construction start in late 2020, pending Ohio utility regulatory approval.

A retirement party will be held April 25 for Highland County Engineer P. Dean Otworth, who announced his resignation on March 27 to take a position with the Ohio Department of Transportation Central Office in Columbus, Bushelman said.

Well-wishers are welcome to attend the celebration, which he said will be held in the old ODOT garage in Hillsboro from 1-4 p.m.

Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.


By Tim Colliver

[email protected]