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Friday, September 12, 2014

HazMat? WTF?

Perhaps my readers can solve an odd little enigma that I've been pondering during the past few hours.

As mentioned a couple of posts down, Baltimore is celebrating the bicentennial of the battle of Fort McHenry. Obama "toured" Fort McHenry today, arriving by helicopter.

I went out today with the intention of getting some video shots of the tall ships in the Inner Harbor. At one point, I stopped in Canton Park, which is less than a mile away (across the water) from the Fort. The Google Earth map included in this post will supply the necessary geographical information.

Somewhat to my surprise, roughly half the park was taken over by Fire Department personnel, who seemed to be preparing for an incident involving hazardous materials. There was also a fairly large tent, which I can only presume was there to treat possible victims of...

...of what? That's the question. 

The photo reproduced above shows only a portion of the emergency vehicles stationed in that park.

I also saw about a dozen emergency workers in a boat docked at Canton Park. Their dark green uniforms differentiated them from the blue uniforms worn by the Fire Department personnel.

Now, I don't want to sound an overly paranoid note. In all likelihood, there is a perfectly valid explanation for this situation. Still, it seems fair to presume that these emergency workers had set up this encampment because the President was in the area. It also seems fair to ask: Just what were these guys expecting?

This site indicates that a small HazMat vehicle may accompany a presidential visit. However, the set-up I witnessed seemed far more elaborate.

I've been in the general vicinity of presidential visits before, and I've never seen any preparations this extensive. (Back in the early 1980s, I wandered into the Century Plaza Hotel ballroom a few hours before Reagan was scheduled to speak there. None of the security guards gave me a second look, even though I was carrying a large artist's portfolio. Different times...!)

If any readers can enlighten me as to what was going on today in the vicinity of Fort McHenry, I'd be very grateful.
The only thing I can tell you is that I'm working this event....and we were banned from the Fort McHenry area.
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