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Emergency responders practice for major New Madrid earthquake

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – Emergency responders in eleven Midwestern and Southern states began practicing Tuesday for a major earthquake along the New Madrid fault.

The three-day training session focuses on a series of oil spills resulting from such a quake.

In addition to police and fire departments, oil companies and the EPA are also participating.

The EPA's Scott Hayes said until now, major oil spill drills have only been done in coastal areas.

"We've never done it inland, but there are some major rivers-the Mississippi, the Missouri and the Ohio, primarily, that are of significant importance to commerce and our daily lives," Hayes said.

Hayes said the exercise may simulate oil spills from barges, pipelines and storage facilities. But the exact scenario is a secret to everyone but the organizers.

One of the Midwest's worst real oil spills occurred in 1988, when a broken pipeline spewed nearly a million gallons of oil into the Gasconade river in central Missouri.


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