Sunshine Law Tested

1 decade 1 year 2 months ago Wednesday, March 14 2007 Mar 14, 2007 Wednesday, March 14, 2007 10:32:44 AM CDT March 14, 2007 in News
"The Community Emergency Response Plan is a public document," Olsen said.

"There's nothing to hide in that plan. It's the community's plan," said Terry Cassil, Columbia F.D. Division Chief.

The plan didn't list chemicals in the county but pointed us to the Fire District Headquarters. There you can see detailed reports of the amount and type of chemicals.

In Cole County, our unannounced visit turned up nothing. The official wasn't in the office. The county's emergency coordinator took two weeks to return two phone calls, and finally handed over the plan, not updated since 2000. We asked why the document was so old, she said her secretary made a mistake. She then emailed KOMU the county's most updated plan from 2004.

"We don't get wrapped up about the date on the corner of the page, what we get wrapped up with is are you knowledgeable, have you had training, are you familiar with the other players," said Susan Green, Cole County Emergency Operations Director.

One of those players is Cole County Hazmat Chief Mike Rackers.

"We are in an age of technology ... The updates on right here my hip. It's all the phone numbers ... it's all the contact information," Rackers said, as he displays his Blackberry organizer.

And as for chemicals in the community, "we have 3 chemists," Rackers said.

Just across the river from Cole County, Callaway County officials say they'll let you know what types of chemicals are stored in the community, but said a truck carrying hazardous materials could cross that bridge and spill. They said plans on how the county would deal with such a spill are secret.

"If I have to evacuate this county, I have to make certain decisions," said Lee Fritz, Callaway County Commissioner.

Fritz said terrorists could get a hold of parts of the plan that relate to the nuclear power plant and exploit that plan.

"Our plan itself ... It's clearly protected under federal and state law," Fritz said.

KOMU received that response when we requested the document in person and with two Sunshine Law letters.

"That information given out could create a situation where someone would know how we're responding, and how to influence or hurt that response," said John Shearman, Callaway County Emergency Operations Director.

The State Emergency Management Agency agreed with Callaway County, saying "disclosure of this plan could compromise the security of the plant." It backed up that claim with a section of Missouri's Sunshine Law that deals with terrorism.

So we asked if Callaway County could remove the parts that deal with terrorism at the plant, to see how the county would respond to other types of hazardous emergencies.

"The plan itself creates issues of dealing with terrorism, and it would be literally impossible for me to remove one section that section of it, without it totally influencing the entire plan," Shearman said.

KOMU took that claim to Charles Davis, Director of the Freedom of Information Center, who helped craft the section in Missouri's Sunshine Law that deals with terrorism.

"If there is something in here that truly is related to the nuclear plant, and thus captured by our homeland security exemption, they shouldn't mark out the other 98 percent that's not about that," Davis said.

"Certain security measures need to be kept secret," Fritz said.

The U.S. Congress said this document should be open under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986.

KOMU partnered with journalists all across the country for this story as a part of Sunshine Week to bring attention to our country's open government laws.

More News

Grid
List
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - A Missouri House panel considering whether to try to impeach Gov. Eric Greitens for sexual misconduct... More >>
41 minutes ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 2:18:00 PM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A jury trial in a wrongful death lawsuit in Carl DeBrodie's death is scheduled to begin March 2,... More >>
1 hour ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 1:20:00 PM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The Latest on allegations against Gov. Eric Greitens (all times local): 1:10 p.m. ... More >>
4 hours ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 10:12:00 AM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Springfield police say an 8-year-old girl who hadn't been seen since early Tuesday has been found... More >>
6 hours ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 8:36:00 AM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - In the wake of the deadly Santa Fe High School shooting , the MU Police Department will be... More >>
7 hours ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 7:43:00 AM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
BRUSSELS (AP) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faces senior European Union lawmakers later Tuesday to answer questions about a... More >>
9 hours ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 5:22:00 AM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department said it found a missing teen around 1 a.m. Tuesday. Authorities said Brice... More >>
10 hours ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 4:41:00 AM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia residents will have a chance to learn about - and talk about - climate change Tuesday night.... More >>
11 hours ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 3:00:00 AM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - An on-going rift between two east campus communities has come to a breaking point. Non-resident property owners want... More >>
19 hours ago Monday, May 21 2018 May 21, 2018 Monday, May 21, 2018 7:29:00 PM CDT May 21, 2018 in Top Stories
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A Kansas City man who told authorities he was hearing "voices" when he wounded two... More >>
19 hours ago Monday, May 21 2018 May 21, 2018 Monday, May 21, 2018 7:07:41 PM CDT May 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - More than 670 motorcycles poured into the Phillips 66 gas station off I-70 as the "Run for the... More >>
20 hours ago Monday, May 21 2018 May 21, 2018 Monday, May 21, 2018 6:05:00 PM CDT May 21, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A new fire station is in store for east Jefferson City, and the city council will review... More >>
21 hours ago Monday, May 21 2018 May 21, 2018 Monday, May 21, 2018 5:10:00 PM CDT May 21, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office announced late Monday that a special prosecutor has been selected in... More >>
21 hours ago Monday, May 21 2018 May 21, 2018 Monday, May 21, 2018 5:00:00 PM CDT May 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Checking the phone constantly, surfing Facebook first thing in the morning or right before bed, playing games like... More >>
23 hours ago Monday, May 21 2018 May 21, 2018 Monday, May 21, 2018 3:58:00 PM CDT May 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – The UM Board of Curators voted Monday to increase tuition by up to 2.1 percent for the 2018-2019... More >>
23 hours ago Monday, May 21 2018 May 21, 2018 Monday, May 21, 2018 3:44:00 PM CDT May 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – Students will leave class early on Tuesday as the 2017-2018 Academic Year comes to a close. The... More >>
23 hours ago Monday, May 21 2018 May 21, 2018 Monday, May 21, 2018 3:28:00 PM CDT May 21, 2018 in News
CAMDEN COUNTY - The Missouri State Highway Patrol is investigating a boating crash that left three dead and two injured... More >>
23 hours ago Monday, May 21 2018 May 21, 2018 Monday, May 21, 2018 3:20:00 PM CDT May 21, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri has never impeached a governor, but that could change in 2018. Tuesday, the House of Representatives... More >>
1 day ago Monday, May 21 2018 May 21, 2018 Monday, May 21, 2018 2:04:00 PM CDT May 21, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 83°
3pm 83°
4pm 84°
5pm 85°
6pm 83°