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Sixth Ruapehu Lahar Response Exercise

Ref: OU328229

To: All Media. Date: Tuesday 24 October 2006

Sixth Ruapehu Lahar Response Exercise

The Southern Ruapehu Lahar Planning Group (SRLPG) along with key support agencies are holding a lahar response exercise today (Wednesday 25 October 2006) to test the emergency management plan developed for the anticipated ‘dam burst’ lahar from the Crater Lake on Mt Ruapehu.

This is the sixth lahar response exercise conducted by the Ruapehu Lahar: Emergency Management Plan (Southern) Group and the first since October last year.

Each successive ‘test run’ of the Ruapehu Lahar: Emergency Management Plan (Southern) has added increasing levels of realism and complexity to the practice exercise.

Paul Wheatcroft, Public Information Manager for Ruapehu District Council, the lead response agency for the SRLPG, stated that like earlier Lahar exercises Wednesday’s test will be conducted in ‘real time’ and cover a 90 minute period which is the fastest estimated time it will take the (real) lahar to travel from the crater lake to the Tangiwai Rail Bridge on SH 49.

“Wednesday’s lahar response exercise will begin with the Eastern Ruapehu Lahar Warning System (ERLAWS) being set off artificially. This will then trigger the implementation of the lahar emergency management plan,” said Mr Wheatcroft.

“The ERLAWS activation launches personnel from SRLPG organisations Ruapehu District Council, Horizons Regional Council, Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) and Police along with other key agencies the Army, Department of Conservation, GNS Science plus other stakeholders to implement the response plan tasks exactly as they will on the day of the real lahar,” he said.

The exercise proper will commence at 9.30 am on Wednesday (25 October 2006) with the activation of the Eastern Ruapehu Lahar Warning System (ERLAWS).

Traffic on SH 1 in Waiouru and on SH 49 at the Tangiwai Bridge will be stopped for a short period of time when the ERLAWS alarm is activated.

The ‘Ruapehu Lahar: Emergency Management Plan’ will be continuously tested and refined until the real lahar event takes place.

One of the key issues the SRLPG faces is ensuring that complacency does not start to creep into perceptions around the danger the lahar represents added Mr Wheatcroft.


Ends

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