October 6, 2015

Full scale disaster drill at Eppley Airfield on Saturday

There will be lights, sirens and a lot of activity at Eppley Airfield in Omaha Saturday morning. However, Omaha Airport Authority Chief of Police Tim Conahan says there is no cause for alarm. The Omaha Airport Authority is holding its triennial full-scale disaster training exercise from approximately 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Chief Conahan says, “We will stage a crash site on the south end of the airport. We will have response agencies. Fire will respond. Police will respond. Roads will be blocked off and they will be numerous victims.”

The “victims are really about 100 volunteers. Chief Conahan says 33 participating community response organizations will also be taking part.

A portion of Lindbergh Plaza on the south end of the airport will be closed to through traffic from 8 a.m. through 2 pm. during the exercise. A portion of Lindbergh Plaza on the north end will remain open for access to the east side of the airport.

Suspicious package inside a vehicle near Ft. Calhoun Plant

Omaha Public Power District’s Fort Calhoun Station is operating under special circumstances. At 8:44 a.m. Friday, security identified a suspicious package inside a vehicle. OPPD confirmed that the package does not contain explosives.

The vehicle was located just outside the protected area of the plant. Security notified law enforcement and the Washington County Sheriff’s office and a nearby law enforcement bomb squad responded.

Approximately 30 employees inside a warehouse were evacuated as a precaution. The plant entered a “notification of unusual event” emergency classification and the U-S Nuclear Regulatory Commission was notified.

Polluted Norfolk power company site may get federal clean-up dollars

EPA-logoThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is nominating a polluted site in northeast Nebraska to be put on its Superfund list, potentially putting it in line for federal clean-up dollars.

The EPA’s Region Seven spokesman Chris Whitley says the Iowa-Nebraska Light & Power Company site is located in Norfolk, where the soil and groundwater have been contaminated for decades.

“This one goes back to probably our grandparents’ day when it was used as a manufactured gas plant location,” Whitley says, “when it was used to convert coal gas and other products into energy.”

Whitley says the site in Norfolk is one of several nationwide that have raised environmental concerns.

“The contaminants there are basically the remnants of the old activity that was involved in manufacturing gas,” Whitley says, “different types of contaminants, volatile organic compounds. Benzene is a name of a contaminant that listeners may be familiar with.”

Part of the property is owned by Black Hills/Nebraska Gas Utility Company and the rest is owned by the Nebraska Public Power District.

The Superfund program has a national priority list, what Whitley calls “the worst of the worst” polluted sites that are slated for clean-up.

The State of Nebraska has expressed support for placing the site on the list.

There will be a 60-day comment period during which the public can speak out about this. Visit the EPA’s website to offer a comment.

Bellevue man dies in crash off bridge into creek

Police car lightsA 32-year-old Bellevue man died in a one-vehicle accident this past weekend in which both speed and alcohol are suspected as factors that led to the crash.

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office identifies the victim as 32-year-old Matthew Tritsch.

The office reports deputies found Tritsch dead at the scene, about two miles southwest of Murray.

According to the accident report, Tritsch was driving his pick-up south on 36th Street when it crashed through a bridge railing and landed on its side in a creek.

Witnesses reported seeing the same pick-up earlier on Waverly Road, west of U.S. 75, running over a number of mailboxes.

The investigation continues.

Motorcyclist is killed while escorting fallen veteran

Fatal CrashA 38-year-old motorcyclist from eastern Nebraska was killed in a weekend accident in southwestern Iowa while escorting a veteran’s remains back to the state. 

Thirty-eight-year-old Ryan Lossing of La Vista was one of dozens of riders providing the escort on Interstate 80 near Atlantic, Iowa, when the accident occurred on Saturday afternoon. 

Three other motorcyclists were injured, two from Nebraska and one from Iowa. 

State troopers say an 81-year-old driver from Iowa changed lanes abruptly and ran into the procession. 

The riders were escorting the body of 69-year-old Bill Henry back to Nebraska. 

Henry was co-founder of Nebraska’s Missing in America project.  He died in a similar motorcycle accident two weeks ago.