New Haven officials to update city-wide alert system - WFSB 3 Connecticut

New Haven officials to update city-wide alert system

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WFSB file photo of explosion at New Haven Chlor-Alkali. (WFSB) WFSB file photo of explosion at New Haven Chlor-Alkali. (WFSB)

There is fallout from an explosion that rocked a section of the Elm City.

Back in December, a blast at a bleach plant shook nervous neighbors who say they went hours before getting any information from the city.

There will now be a public hearing Tuesday night as the city looks to put a plan in place in order to update residents more quickly.

Neighbors who felt that blast say it’s a day they'll never forget and they add what was so nerve-wracking about it, was not knowing for hours, what actually happened.

"Out of the blue, just heard the big explosion, didn't know what was going on until we came outside, saw the insulation flying all over the place,” said Jasmine Reyes, of New Haven.

She said that December blast shattered the windows at her mother-in-law’s Welton Street home, along with plenty of others.

"I didn't know what was going to happen, there was no smell, no fire, no smoke,” said Joan Pellota, of New Haven.

After thinking it was a natural gas explosion, investigators later determined a piece of equipment inside the New Haven Chlor-Alkali plant malfunctioned. Better known as H-Krevit, the facility near the Hamden line makes bleach for metal finishing, swimming pools and water treatment industries.

"They just told us we couldn't come back, had to leave for a few hours, and would then be allowed back. No one at that time said what was the cause, what was happening, everyone was quite nervous,” Pellota said.

While the blast happened before noon, the city, citing no immediate threat to the neighborhood or the environment, didn't send out a notification alert until roughly six hours later.

"We wanted to do it around dinner time when more people would pick up home, more people would listen to it,” said Rick Fontana, of New Haven’s Emergency Management.

Some feel they could have given residents an idea of what happened a little sooner.

Tuesday’s public hearing with the Board of Alders Public Safety Committee will discuss how the city can set up a standard operating procedure on alerting residents in a timely manner, whenever there is an incident similar to this one.

"We're going to do it city wide, it makes sense that in the event there is a major incident, as soon as we have some information we can convey to the public, we're going to do that. We all agree,” Fontana said.

The public hearing is Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at New Haven City Hall.

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