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The Nation

Plans OKd for Federal Worker Evacuations

August 18, 2002|From Reuters

CRAWFORD, Texas — The Bush administration has approved plans aimed at speeding the evacuation of federal workers in the nation's capital in the event of an attack using weapons of mass destruction, officials said Saturday.

Under the plan, the Office of Personnel Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the General Services Administration would have the authority to order an evacuation of up to 350,000 federal workers in the Washington, D.C., area and 1.8 million nationwide if an attack occurs or if one is deemed imminent.

Operation centers have been set up by the three agencies allowing around-the-clock communication with federal, state and local law enforcement. Should an evacuation be ordered, the agencies would notify federal workers through a system of bulletins in 15 minutes or less, officials said.

Known as the Federal Emergency Decision and Notification Protocol, the plan is designed to avoid the confusion that followed the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. After the attacks, the administration closed the federal government without notifying Washington's mayor and other local leaders, who could not be reached.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said the Office of Homeland Security has been working with state and local governments across the country to develop comprehensive emergency response plans.

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