False Alarm at Indiana Chemical Plant Triggers Community Response

According to a report in the Terre Haute, Ind. Tribune-Star newspaper, a false alarm on Wednesday at the New Chemical Depot storage facility -- which stores 1,200 tons of a fatal nerve agent -- triggered schools in numerous Indiana counties to respond to what was believed to have been a chemical disaster.

In the Star-Tribune report, Ernie Pyle Elementary School principal Ronda Foster said the school's staff and students were in the process of preparing for shelter inside the school, including the taping and sealing of external windows, before officials were notified that the alarm was inaccurate.

Once school officials were alerted that the chemical plant's alarm was false, some schools reportedly used the alarm to fulfill practicing of emergency response plans.

The schools are part of the "Indoor Alarm System," designed to broadcast major emergencies. The Star-Tribune reported that the system was installed in 2001, and that the last false alarm from the chemical storage facility was in December 2003.