Archive for Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Real-world’ events at county fair

August 4, 2004

While taking pictures at last week's disaster drill conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, I quickly learned to distinguish myself from the participants.

At a drill such as that, there are two types of people -- those in the drill's simulated world and those in the real world.

Upon entering the fairground's administration building, which was established as command headquarters, I introduced myself to a man who was near the door.

"Oh, you're real world," he said,

So after that, to eliminate confusion, I preceded my introduction by saying: "I'm real world."

While it seemed the drill was running like clockwork, the facts behind it -- the actual dangers of nuclear accidents -- were chilling.

In setting the stage, the EPA provided information about previous "real-world" nuclear disasters.

For instance, there was the 1978 crash of a Soviet nuclear-powered satellite that spread radioactive fuel over a 124,000-kilometer area on Canadian soil.

And then there was the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident which immediately claimed some 31 power stations workers and firefighters and in the long-term will likely take another 100,000 who will die or have died because of weakened immune systems.

In 1987, a junkyard worker in Brazil pried open a canister from an abandoned radiotherapy machine. Hundreds of people were contaminated, and four people died as a result of their proximity to the radioactive cesium-137.

And in 2000, wildfires at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington scorched more than 200 square miles of land and raised levels of airborne plutonium.

Last week's operation was named "Ruby Slipper," and according to Chuck Magaha, Leavenworth County's director of emergency preparedness, the goal was to find where a satellite had crashed, and to locate a red shoe (ruby slipper) at the site. The field play was carried out both in the Leavenworth County rock quarry, which represented Oklahoma, and at Fort Leavenworth, which represented Kansas.

"They found the shoe in Kansas," Magaha said, "They didn't find it in Oklahoma."

While the event was staged locally, the participants included EPA workers and consultants from around the country. For instance, at the quarry, there were residents of San Francisco, Dallas, Las Vegas, Montgomery, Ala., and Chicago.

Magaha helped out in the initial planning stages, providing contact numbers and suggesting locations. But during the event, he came on the site as an observer, or as the participants would have said, "real-world."

"It was a good learning experience for them, and we got a little bit out of it, too," Magaha said.

At the fair

The Leavenworth County Fair is a week away, but the action has already begun. Last Saturday, 4-H'ers participated in the county's dog show. It was an impressive competition that tested the youths' skills and patience, as well as the dogs' training.

On Thursday, the competition heats up again, this time with 4-H'ers modeling clothes they've sewn or purchased. After the judges have their say, the youths will model their clothing in a public fashion revue, set for 7 p.m. Friday at the fairground administration building. After a couple days off, on Monday morning, the action will start up again as 4-H and open class competitors bring their exhibits to the fair.

The rides, food stands and booths open on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, a favorite of many is the fair parade through downtown Tonganoxie, set for 6:30 p.m.

The activity will continue through Saturday night, and, as always, there's something for everyone, whether it's concerts, rodeos, rides, something to eat or the exhibits. Hope to see you there.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.