An apology was issued Thursday for the scenario that was used in an Athens County exercise to train emergency responders in the event of a terrorist incident.
The scenario involved a fake anti-fracking extremist group.
“The Athens County Emergency Management Agency and the Athens County LEPC (Local Emergency Planning Committee) are issuing this release to apologize for our choice of scenario...,” stated a news release issued Thursday afternoon.
“The scenario caused distress to people who have spent countless hours striving to protect the environment and our citizens,” the release stated. “The role of the Athens County Emergency Management Agency and LEPC is to protect our citizens (from) natural as well as man-made disasters. We strive to bring our county together and our standard is to remain neutral on local issues. We fell short of that standard.”
The news release was issued by Fred Davis, director of Athens County EMA, and Dan Pfeiffer, chairman of the Athens County LEPC.
“There was no intent to offend any local group, and it (the scenario) was not based on any local group,” Pfeiffer told The Messenger.
Roxanne Groff, a member of the Athens County Fracking Action Network, was at Thursday’s Athens County Commissioners meeting on another matter. She ask the commissioners to seek an apology from Pfeiffer.
Groff said that because local groups are trying to educate the public on fracking, she was offended that fracking was a topic of the scenario. Groff said she is supportive of the training that was taking place.
“Fracking is in the news because we’re concerned about it,” Groff said.
Commissioner President Lenny Eliason, who at the time Groff made the request did not know how the scenario originated, said he also thought it was inappropriate.
“You want to have it as realistic as possible, but you don’t want to single out an issue as emotional as that,” Eliason said.
Commissioner Charlie Adkins said he thought the choice of scenarios was divisive.