Pipeline Awareness for Emergency Response in WV

by Duane Nichols on September 30, 2015

Public Information Meeting  – Pipeline Safety in West Virginia

Commentary & Summary by April Keating, Buckhannon, Upshur County, WV, September 29, 2015

I attended the pipeline safety awareness and first responder training, Pipeline Awareness for Emergency Response, in Buckhannon on September 28th. It was sponsored by several gas/pipeline companies, including Dominion, EQT, Mountaineer, and a couple more, plus 811, and held at Riverbend Golf Club. They were there with their booths and their giveaway items, and we heard a bit from each of them at the beginning of the program during introductions.

I got a lot of stuff to take home – a flashlight, a few pens, a tire gauge, drink cozy and reusable water bottle, and more, which all fit nicely into my new tote bag, courtesy of Dominion Resources. Dinner was served before the presentation – homemade meatloaf, mashed potatoes, canned green beans, and salad. There was ice cream for dessert.

The speaker was a guy from Kansas who had years of experience in law enforcement, culminating in some years with the KBI and as leader of the SWAT team there. He ran the powerpoint presentation, which was long, with a headset microphone, and in order to run it efficiently, he went fast. We were given booklets which had the powerpoint slides laid out with lines beside each one for notes. The print was very small in the book, and the screen on the projector was far away from me, people were in front of me, and my old eyes failed me on some of the details. I hope the info is online.

There was a lot of information presented, mostly stuff we already knew, and some links. There was an electrical clicker device which allowed the audience to vote on answers to several “pop quiz” questions as we went along. This was apparently to increase audience participation and interest, but I think they probably also use it in their PR materials (“See, we had a 100% accuracy rate among respondents! People were really paying attention!” – even if only 10 people responded…ah, the corporate world!).

Topics covered were: types of natural disasters that can compromise pipelines, types of pipelines and systems, what regulatory agencies cover what types, info on the “national pipeline mapping system,” which of course only covers interstate lines, safety initiatives, right of way, above ground storage tanks, Hydrogen sulfide H2S (yes, they did!), batching pipe (this is when they run several different types of liquids in the same pipe! who knew?), petroleum and natural gas products and health hazards, cross bores (how about a gas line through your sewer!), HVLs (highly volatile liquids), above-ground HVL tanks, HCA (high consequence areas), PIR (potential impact radius), evacuation radius, site assessment (things to think about), damage prevention, 811-call before you dig, hazards and risks, incident command, terrorism and vandalism, how to develop emergency response plans, communication issues between departments, and more!

Most of the cars (trucks) in the lot were gas trucks, but there were a few public reps there, including two of our county commissioners and Mary Friend of the WV Public Service Commission. As everyone was leaving, I stopped to ask her a few questions about pipelines, starting with why do they call the “affected public” anyone within 660 feet radius of a pipeline, when the blast radius on a 42″ at 1000 psi is 1000 ft, and the evacuation radius on the same is 3000 feet? She explained it as something to do with different sections of PHMSA, the 660-foot one being in section 616, I believe, and that the other ones are industry standards but also have coding in law. I would like to look this up and find out why the larger radius isn’t just standard for all those purposes. If the evacuation radius is 3000 feet, then by all means, count the people thereby affected as “the affected public.”

I told her I was worried about the water, and we talked about how much water it takes to frack wells. She responded with how they’ve had that technology since the 1940s. Yes, but not in its current form, and not to this degree, I responded. Well, they recycle that water and use it “over and over.” I believe someone in the industry who works for a water recycling company told me they can only use it once, but I didn’t press that. I did say that it is not economical to make it potable so they basically “can’t,” but she didn’t buy it. She did mention that her husband works in oil and gas.

I told her I was part of a small group that is trying to educate the public on such issues. I am hopeful that we can spread our message and win the minds and hearts of the people that are our leaders before it is too late. The best we can do is keep educating ourselves and reaching out to others to make sure we all know the ins and outs of gas pipelines, so that we can inform those who may not be so informed.

But make no mistake, the world around us is heading fast and furious toward renewables. It’s time for West Virginia to think FORWARD and MOVE forward, and not be left behind. I have started a hashtag #wakeupwv. Please use it whenever you repost an article about the opportunities out there that we are missing out on.

Thank you for your considerations,

April Keating, Board Member, Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance


NOTE: There is a Pipeline Awareness for Emergency Response Meeting set for Moorefield tonight (September 30th) at 5:30 pm at the South Branch Inn.  And, the October 1st meeting is set for the Holiday Inn in Martinsburg, WV.  Please call the Holiday Inn to verify the time which is listed on the web-site for 7 am.  A time of 7 pm would be more popular!

See also: http://wv.pipeline-awareness.com/meeting_schedule

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