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Genesee County Shuts Down Hazardous Materials Team

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FLINT (AP) - A Michigan county has shut down its hazardous materials response team as the state investigates potential problems with required medical and equipment checks, officials said.

The decision leaves Genesee County without its own such team for the first time since 2002, The Flint Journal reported. With no team, 911 dispatchers will work with first responders in the Flint area to seek help from a neighboring county in the event of a hazardous materials emergency.

The Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Administration wants to know whether 28 members on the team have had required physical exams and that the breathing equipment they use has been tested to ensure it fits properly, officials said.\

“We’re trying to make sure everybody is in compliance within the next 30 days,” said Mundy Township Police Chief Edward Blight, director of operations for the hazmat unit.

No citation has been issued against the unit, MIOSHA spokeswoman Elaine Clapp said.

Sheriff Robert Pickell’s emergency management division administers the hazmat program. He said the team doesn’t have enough money to pay for physicals, and he has approached area hospitals about providing lower-cost health checks.

The decision to shut down, Pickell said, was because he didn’t want to put any team members “in harm’s way.”

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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