Officials say ready for attack

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The bad guys were covered with red paint balls and the local SWAT team came home unscathed.

The Special Response Team, made up of members from the Craig Police Department and the Moffat County Sheriff's Office, stormed the control room at the Craig Station Power Plant Saturday during a disaster preparedness drill.

The incident commander, Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg, said the team performed well during the simulation that involved numerous local, state and federal agencies.

Participants playing the role of terrorists barged through the plant's front gate and detonated a chemical weapon on the west side of the plant, Hoberg said. They then tried to take control of the power plant using mayhem as a diversion.

Hazardous materials teams responded. Emergency medical workers took care of the mock victims. Even the U.S. Army was called in.

"We went through a very realistic process as far as getting (the Army) dispatched," said Clyde Anderson, Moffat County's emergency manager. Anderson.

Anderson staged the exercise with help from the Colorado Department of Military Affairs and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, which operates the plant.

Anderson will put together an after-action report to summarize his findings after the drill. But his preliminary reaction is one of admiration for those who participated in the drill.

"I thought the level of cooperation between local resources in Moffat County, our neighboring counties and jurisdictions and the state and federal resources was absolutely unprecedented," Anderson said.

Anderson estimated there were 125 people involved in the drill. The exercise was staged to provide a realistic training experience for an emergency response to a terrorist action at the state's largest power generation facility, which is the Craig Station.

Hoberg also was encouraged by the results of the exercise.

"Usually one of the first things to bog down is communications," Hoberg said. "But it went well."

The fire commander could speak to all his people. The emergency medical services commander had no trouble communicating with his forces.

"None of us was walking over each other on the radio," Hoberg said.

One logistical challenge that will need to be addressed is the evacuation of the plant, Hoberg said.

Since a hostile takeover of the power plant would become a crime scene, there would many potential problems coordinating the continued operation of the plant and the gathering of evidence at the scene.

"We would want to conduct a lengthy investigation," Anderson said. "On the other hand, the power plant is a private entity and needs to do business."

Anderson considered the implications of shutting down the plant during such and investigation and said it would be devastating."We need to look at that issue," Anderson said.

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com

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