The House last week passed House Bill 259 unanimously. This bill sends text alerts to communities, rather than just landline phone alerts, when a dangerous chemical leak, like what happened at the Croda plant in 2019, has happened in their area.
The bill ‘requires Delaware to use the Wireless Emergency Alert (“WEA”) system to notify the public of emergency alerts and requires that the emergency alert system be used when a catastrophic release occurs. A catastrophic release is a major uncontrolled emission, fire, or explosion that presents an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health. This Act also requires that emergency alerts be broadcast in Spanish, in addition to English, when possible.’
|House Bill 259 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Lambert, Moore, Schwartzkopf||House Passes 41-0. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Brady Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton Briggs King Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick||None|
|Hansen, Gay, Mantzavinos, Pinkney|
|Current Status:||Out of Committee in the Senate 4/5/22|
The Wireless Emergency Alert System (WEA) is something I am sure you are all familiar with, because you all have received an emergency alert on your phone in an emergency. Like a Tornado Warning or a Flash Flood. It scares you to death when the alarm goes off, as intended so as to get your attention. But apparently, Delaware does not use this system to warn residents of any catastrophic release of chemicals or some other toxic substance, like the Croda Ethylene Oxide release, from any of Delaware’s industrial or power facilities, or from the nuclear power plants nearby in New Jersey or Pennsylvania.
Delaware still uses reverse 911 notifications to landline phones for environmental hazards, but only 6.5% of U.S. households use landlines as their only form of phone communication. In contrast, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that during the first 6 months of 2020, 62.5% of adults and 73.8% of children lived in wireless-only households.
This bill will require the alerts to be sent to mobile phones regardless of whether the user or resident has registered with DEMA to receive the WEA alerts.