Monroe County EMA Getting Dams to Protect Waterways from Spills

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- An emergency management agency in the Poconos is buying new tools that will help stop hazardous materials from flowing down waterways.

Monroe County EMA is getting four underflow dams. The devices connect to each other and inflate in the water.

"They are portable. They can be installed across the creek, attached together to make it bigger and put across a river," explained Monroe County EMA official Lynda Messerschmidt.

Messerschmidt is the emergency preparedness planner. She says the device helps stop hazardous materials from flowing down waterways. Messerschmidt says the dams could have been put to good use last year when a truck tipped over, spilling thousands of plastic pellets into Pocono Creek.

The cleanup took days because there was nothing to stop the plastic from flowing downstream.

"After that happened, we wished we had them then because it would have saved a lot of work and energy on a lot of volunteers trying to pick up all those pellets."

Officials tell Newswatch 16 they already have two underflow dams in-house, but those are used for training purposes. The other four that they plan to purchase will be scattered throughout the county.

"We want to put them at different locations, different firehouses in the county, where they would be accessible to firefighters or first responders that need to rescue the waterways," Messerschmidt said.

The dams cost about $1,500 each. Officials say money to pay for the devices will come from an emergency planning committee fund.

"We have that fund just for things like this, for response. We have to use the money. We have to spend it," Messerschmidt added.

Officials say if the extra underflow dams are put to good use, they may consider buying more in the future.

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