Corteva holds safety drill


Photo courtesy of Corteva Agriscience

Corteva Agriscience workers in hazmat suits work to address mock gas leak emergency.

Corteva Argiscience held its regular Community Awareness Emergency Response Drill, May 1 and invited students at Los Medanos College to participate and observe the way an emergency could potentially unfold.

Sitting on 650 acres, Corteva Argiscience, formerly Dow Chemical, specializes in the production of agricultural chemicals, seeds and other products that help with the production of agriculture.

Referred to as “The Plant,” the entire faculty of Corteva, as well as first responders and members of the community, acted out an emergency chlorine gas release.

An ear-shattering gas alarm went off for anyone in a five-mile radius to hear and the button that initiated the alarm also closed off all pipelines on site. All employees evacuated the building and were told to carpool and get as far away from “The Plant” as possible and stay indoors. Everyone still onsite was given a handheld mouth/nose respiratory machine for protection. “The Plant” has its own EMT and firefighter units that tackled the leak right away.

“One thing is to be scared of the chemicals we work with, another thing is to respect these chemicals. And that’s truly what you need to do because these chemicals could kill you,” said Cenobio Magana, who has worked at “The Plant” for more than 30 years.

Though this was just a drill, no one acted as if it was, and there was visible gas coming from the leak to mimic a real-life emergency. There were about four different sensors checking the air for levels of toxicity.

Firefighters directed their water hose directly where the gas was coming from as they suited up in Level A Suits, which are completely encapsulated with face masks and oxygen tanks so that no one fixing the leak becomes contaminated.

There are also showers on site for further washing, or if an employee comes in contact with chemicals at any time.

Nurse Practitioner Laurie Wolf, who works on site, knows it may be an odd process to strip and get hosed down in front of everyone but said, “You don’t die from embarrassment; you die from not being cautious.”

A hazardous materials response team arrived shortly after the alarm went off, as well as members of the Pittsburg Police Department, Pittsburg Fire Department and EMT from local hospitals. The hazardous materials response team provided the firefighters with the resources needed to fix the leak and they were successful two hours later, then everyone began to clean up and congratulated each other.

“It’s a great learning experience. We involve the whole community, police, EMT, Fire Department and that’s how we are so successful each time we do a drill. We are prepared if it ever gets real,” said Jag Chadha, who works as a Logistics Engineer.

After the mock event, a press conference was held to let reporters know what happened during the drill and the outcome. Members of the LMC Experience news staff were on scene to cover the event and the press conference. According to The Plant’s Public Information Officer, there were nine acting “victims” either treated on site or who needed extra attention at a local hospital. All “victims” were employees who were on site and released before the gas spill was resolved.

Corteva Public Information Officer Gill Azevedo said, “Our number one focus is always the safety of our coworkers and our community,” as he wrapped up the press conference.