EPA Completes Testing Preparedness Exercise with 7 Labs

Laboratories that test drinking water throughout Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska should be better suited to respond to natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other emergencies, as a result of a week-long regional preparedness exercise completed on Aug. 25, according to a press release for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 7 office.

The Region 7 Laboratory Response Plan conducted its first-ever functional exercise to verify that federal, state, and local lab personnel can properly coordinate with each other to provide necessary water testing capacities, in the event that any one lab might find itself overwhelmed by a large quantity of samples needing to be tested in a short period of time.

"We are fortunate in Region 7 to have good working relationships with our state and local lab partners," EPA Region 7 Administrator John Askew said. "This type of exercise only serves to enhance those relationships, and it better positions all of us to be more effective at protecting public health in times of emergencies."

Seven labs participated in the August 18-25 functional exercise at their respective locations:

• University Hygienic Laboratory, Iowa City, Iowa.

• Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratory, Topeka, Kan.

• Missouri State Public Health Laboratory, Jefferson City, Mo.

• Missouri Environmental Services Program Laboratory, Jefferson City, Mo.

• Nebraska Public Health Environmental Laboratory, Lincoln, Neb.

• Kansas City, Mo., Water Services Division Laboratory, Kansas City, Mo.

• City of Olathe Water and Wastewater Laboratory, Olathe, Kan.

EPA has developed and is exercising plans to coordinate laboratory support for responses to actual or suspected drinking water contamination incidents. In 2006 and 2007, EPA developed drinking water Regional Laboratory Response Plans for each of the 10 EPA regions across the nation. State environmental and public health labs were active participants in developing the plans.

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