City, county and emergency response agencies to answer questions at meeting Thursday evening

The Jan. 22 chemical spill at a facility 10 miles east of Taft prompted evacuations for people living within a six mile radius, a shelter-in-place recommendation for Taft and the evacuation of Taft College.

It also raised many questions, including the safety of the manufacture of the chemical acrolein so close to Taft, was the proper information given to the public through and just how toxic is the substance.

The community will get a chance to question Kern County and Taft City officials at a town hall meeting Thursday evening.
The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the Aera Gymnasium at the West Side Recreation and Park District.

Topics to be covered including threats the community faces from similar events and emergency preparedness, including how to prepare your family, the Ready Kern public alert system and emergency response protocols.

Kern County Public Health Director Matt Constantine and Kern County Fire Department Emergency Services Director Georgianna Armstrong will be at the meeting to take questions as well as representatives from the Kern County Fire Department, Taft Police Department, Kern County Sheriff's Office and California Highway Patrol.

The chemical spill at the Taft Manufacturing Plant was reported about 9:40 a.m. and information that went out to the public was very limited and slow to get out.
No emergency information was released to the public through the Ready Kern emergency alert system of reverse 911.

At one point, about 45 minutes after the spill was reported, Jones said, he was notified to prepare for possible evacuations.

The order was never given.

Taft College administrators declared a campus emergency and issued an evacuation order for all students and staff.
Taft City Schools had students shelter in place.
The County then established an evacuation zone in a radius of six miles around the facility.
An evacuation center was established by the American Red Cross at the First Baptist Church.
Finally, just after 7 a.m., the all-clear was given.