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Two new grants will accelerate identification of hazardous materials
and boost regional cooperation.

Elizabeth – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders announced that a federal homeland security grant of $275,000 will be used to purchase a new state-of-the-art mobile laboratory for identifying hazardous substances. Another federal homeland security grant of $123,900 will provide first responders in Union County with regional identification cards to speed their access to emergency sites.

“Union County is home to an area known as the most dangerous two miles in America because of its numerous chemical facilities,” said Freeholder Chairman Angel G. Estrada. “With the new mobile lab and uniform credentialing, our first responders can move more quickly to contain emergencies and protect the public.”

The new Hazardous Materials Identification Mobile Laboratory is a 25-foot vehicle that will provide an enclosed, secure space for testing and identifying unknown substances. It is equipped to evaluate chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive material as well as potential weapons of mass destruction.

“In a hazmat emergency the clock is ticking, and the mobile lab will save valuable time,” said Freeholder Chairman Estrada. “Our responders can get to work immediately instead of having to unpack and set up the necessary equipment.”

The new Countywide Responder Identification Card Program will also enhance emergency response by enabling properly credentialed first responders to enter the secured site of an emergency without delay.

Union County will provide the new identification cards to County first responders and to police, fire, hazmat, EMS, and public health officers in all 21 municipalities. The cards are identical to those being issued in other nearby counties. The program will eventually encompass all of New Jersey.

“As we engage in more shared services and regional cooperation, site control will become more complicated,” said Chairman Estrada. “Standard identification is the tool we need to ensure that first responders from different jurisdictions gain quick access to the scene of an emergency.”

The federal Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) allocated both of the grants to Union County. The USAI program, now in its 5th year, is based on a strategy first developed in New Jersey. It focuses more public safety dollars on highly populated industrial areas that are more at risk in emergencies.

Currently, 47 regions are designated for UASI funds. Union County, which has been a leader in regional emergency response planning, is among seven counties included in the New Jersey UASI.