Threat serves as wake-up call for community

Posted: Sunday, November 12, 2006

Credible or not, this week’s bomb threat that targeted one of the three industrial plants in North Kenai — Agrium, Tesoro and ConocoPhillips — serves as a reminder that we’re far from removed from possible terroristic acts in our community.

Alaska State Troopers said the FBI investigated the claim and determined the threat was not credible. Still, management at each of the premises felt it warranted sending home some of the employees, to be on the cautious side, while the plants were checked by security.

We are fortunate it was just a scare. Even though plant officials and emergency personnel have trained for such disasters, no one is ever prepared to encounter such a situation. We have seen enough in the past few years to know it’s difficult to predict the devastation that follows and its effects.

Some feel Alaska’s remoteness removes us from any potential involvement with terrorists, but we have plenty of reasons to draw the interest of those who would like nothing more than to see the United States destroyed. The reason: oil.

From the pipeline to the plants, each is a volatile target terrorists would love to get their hands on and disintegrate — and they could not care less how many humans go down with it.

We don’t need to be in Washington, D.C., New York or any other large metropolis for them to despise us. They would love to destroy what we have here as much as anywhere in the nation. Their mission is to see Americans suffer.

Being more remote doesn’t make us less of a target. Fortunately, the FBI was able to detect the threat — and who knows how many others — even if it was harmless. We just hope there is no “next time.”

Now imagine a disaster of a different kind: a pandemic.

This time of year it’s easy to feel threatened by the flu. But the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management wants to take this opportunity to simulate a worldwide influenza outbreak.

This Friday, borough officials will be set up to give free flu shots to peninsula residents at the Kenai Army National Guard Armory on Forest Drive from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and at a drive-through station in the Soldotna Sports Center parking lot from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If you haven’t had your shot yet, Friday is an ideal time to do so.

The goal is to get as many people out to get their shots as possible to give officials an opportunity to simulate what it would be like if they ever needed to do this for real. Previous outbreaks of the bird flu are reason enough for concern.

Kudos to the borough’s Office of Emergency Management for being proactive instead of reactive. What a great opportunity to plan ahead.

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