The delinquent siren is back.
That siren, which has created problems for emergency officials for several months, didn't sound during Tuesday's monthly test of the 35 sirens in communities surrounding the Umatilla Chemical Depot.
Only that siren, which is near Hermiston Realty on Highway 395, failed Tuesday's test.
Kym Cazier, the assistant program manager of the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program for Oregon Emergency Management, said Tuesday that "the new voice chips were outstanding."
The chips are programmed with messages in English and Spanish to warn residents of a chemical emergency at the depot. Those messages are broadcast via the sirens.
The sirens, and the agencies responsible for them, came under heavy criticism after a Dec. 30 false alarm. At that time, 13 of the sirens hadn't received the new voice chips. As a result, many areas only received instructions in Spanish.
Unlike previous tests, the new chips announced the test before the sirens sound. The tests are held on the last Tuesday of each month.
The sirens in Washington state performed without incident, said Troy Bergland of Benton County Emergency Services.
Cazier said OEM is trying to better serve the area, and perhaps the new chips are part of the answer. She said OEM received many calls with people who said they could finally understand the broadcasted message, even inside some buildings.
Another part of that answer is adding more sirens and moving others. Six new sirens will be positioned in communities near the depot, but an exact schedule hasn't been developed, she said.
Additionally, five other sirens will be repositioned. In Hermiston, sirens will be added near 10th Street and Gettman Road, near Hinkle and Gettman roads, and near Feedville Road and Highway 207.
Sirens will also be added near the Stanfield Fire Department and near the Boardman Police Department.
Boardman isn't considered part of the immediate response zone for areas near the depot. However, Cazier said Boardman residents will get a siren because they would be among those evacuating should a disaster ever happen.