Los Alamos was notified by the EPA at the time of the aircraft deployment and requested to support an emergency reach-back data analysis effort to support the emergency responders on the ground and in the aircraft. By 7 pm, an initial set of hyperspectral FT-IR data was received at Los Alamos and transferred to computers for assessment and evaluation. The results were evaluated and shipped to a main receiving computer at the EPA in Kansas City. The incident commander at the site was provided the information of all of the data stored on the EPA computer.
A number of data passes by the aircraft were completed beginning at 6:30 PM on 12/03/04 and continuing until 2 AM on 12/04/04. The initial results indicated that the chemical hazards were minimal at the site. However, the aircraft detected significant amounts of ethylene. Ethylene is a starting product for the Marcus Oil polyethylene wax process. In addition, significant quantities of sulfur dioxide were detected at a specific point in the facility. All information was reported to the incident commander with the location of highest concentration. The sulfur dioxide source was potentially attributed to the combustion of building materials at the plant.
The response results again confirmed the utility of the ASPECT aircraft for emergency response at a chemical plant disaster.