Sunday, June 24, 2018
Business

Warning sirens at Port to be upgraded

TAMPA — The Port of Tampa will upgrade its siren warning system, which alerts port workers and residents when something goes really wrong with the handling of hazardous materials that are stored on port land, transported by sea or carried across city streets on railroad cars.

People had trouble understanding those warnings when the sirens blared three times this summer: A slow-moving train derailed with 4,500 gallons of flammable ethanol on July 25, and two fires erupted in a sulfur storage tank in August, releasing a toxic cloud.

So the Tampa Port Authority's governing board decided Tuesday to spend $616,000 to improve the siren warning system and control stations.

The new sirens will be louder, clearer and have a greater range than the old ones. They'll blare and broadcast the old pre-recorded warnings telling people to stay inside or flee the area.

But officials also will be able to use the new system to broadcast live instructions, so they can explain exactly what people should do during another emergency.

"I know that after the last sulfur incident, there was a lot of concern in the community about the siren system," said Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman, who sits on the port board. "I think this will go a long way to improving that."

Murman said it was also good to see emergency officials from the port, city and county working together to better inform residents about the siren system. That will include a public education campaign that will start when the new sirens are installed, so that people will actually know what they should do when the new sirens activate.

Emergency officials at Tuesday's board meeting said residents have become too used to the old warning sirens erupting, because they are tested frequently.

The project must be done by the end of July 2014 or the port will lose the $425,000 federal grant that will help pay for it. The port is putting up the other $191,000.

The port awarded the $616,000 contract to Flores & Harper Construction Inc. of Temple Terrace. But Flores will team up with a national company, Federal Signal Corp., because the local company has no experience installing siren warning systems, according to the port.

The port stores and ships plenty of petroleum products. But another concern is the release of anhydrous ammonia, a colorless gas used as fertilizer. Small doses can cause irritation, while high levels of exposure can be fatal.

Upgraded control stations to activate the new sirens also will be installed at these port facilities: CF Industries, Kinder-Morgan, Yara North America and the Tampa Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at (813) 226-3404, [email protected] or @jthalji on Twitter.

Comments
Office building demolition at Midtown Tampa site proves tougher than expected

Office building demolition at Midtown Tampa site proves tougher than expected

TAMPA ó Stripped to the girders, the old Bromley office building looked about as substantial as fish bones on a dinner plate.But the 5-story structure proved Sunday it still had a surprising amount of fight left in it.A demolition team had planned to...
Updated: 7 hours ago
President Trumpís trade war threatens the US newspaper industry

President Trumpís trade war threatens the US newspaper industry

STERLING, Ill. - As a longtime editor of small-town newspapers, Jeff Rogers has seen his industry face the collapse of print advertising, the rise of the internet and more. Today, his 18 employees work in a newsroom here that puts out two daily newsp...
Published: 06/24/18
Making the case for more drones

Making the case for more drones

BLACKSBURG, Va. - They considered how well everyone slept the night before. They considered the chances a military jet might scream by on a training mission. They considered the farmer in the field.Then they considered some more.After making it throu...
Published: 06/24/18
Tampa Bay workforce development initiative looks to Houston for lessons

Tampa Bay workforce development initiative looks to Houston for lessons

The biggest hospitals in Houston had a problem.To earn a prized institutional certification, they needed more nurses with bachelor of science degrees in nursing.But local colleges were more focused on turning out nurses with two-year degrees who, to ...
Published: 06/22/18
Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

TAMPA ó The days ahead were supposed to be bright.For weeks, the future of health care tech company CareSync had been thrown into question as founder and CEO and founder Travis Bond unexpectedly departed, kicking off multiple rounds of layoffs. But t...
Published: 06/22/18
Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Hereís an intriguing set of facts: Coal produces the same percentage of the worldís electricity as 20 years ago. Oil and gas remain about level, too.Same for nonfossil fuel sources. In other words, the massive push towards renewables over the past co...
Published: 06/22/18
Brink: Why have Floridaís working-age men left the labor market in droves

Brink: Why have Floridaís working-age men left the labor market in droves

A cancer lurks within Floridaís otherwise rosy job numbers, one thatís been called a quiet catastrophe and an intractable time bomb.Too many men between the ages of 25 and 54 have stopped working.Economists call those the prime-age years. Incomes gen...
Published: 06/22/18
Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

ST. PETERSBURG — The 16th annual St. Pete Pride Parade is getting ready to march along the downtown waterfront the second straight year. But many hope to move past the division caused last year when the parade was uprooted from its original hom...
Published: 06/22/18
For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

ST. PETERSBURG ó For sale: a 104-year-old elementary school with restaurant and wine shop. It even has a title company where you can close the deal.Less than a year after completing a major renovation of the historic North Ward school, developer Jona...
Published: 06/22/18
Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others donít

Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others donít

TAMPA ó When the 2008 financial crash brought down the nationís housing market, hundreds of home builders went out of business. Among them was Sharon McSwain Homes in Atlanta, forced to liquidate in 2009.But just as developers like to develop, builde...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18