The county is poised to receive more than $636,000 in Homeland Security grants next week, which would swell the total of domestic safety grants to the county over the past 12 years to $6.2 million.
The new money will go to several projects, such as using radar to detect and monitor suspicious vessels along the coastline near the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, bioterrorism testing, evacuation planning, hazardous incident responses, purchasing two-way radios, and training.
Federal dollars go to the state, after which local jurisdictions compete for the funds. The competition for money exists at both levels under strict formulas, according to Ron Alsop, county emergency services director, and the presence of the nuclear power plant has not been a factor in San Luis Obispo County receiving money.
“It is actually formula-driven based on such things as population amounts,” Alsop said. “So we would have received these funds whether or not we have a nuclear power plant.”
Federal dollars for safety began coming in as far back as 1999, when the county was receiving grants from the Office of Justice Preparedness, Alsop said. But “it started to ramp up” in fiscal year 2003-04, two years after the 9/11 attack on New York City and Washington.
Responsibility for national security moved at that time from the Department of Justice to the new Homeland Security Department. “There’s some good stuff” on the list of “terrorism preparedness grants,” as the government refers to them, Alsop said.
Alsop will ask the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to formally accept the grant money.