Natural Gas Pipeline Emergency Training Conducted by JCE
By LYNNETTE FORTH | For The Prairie Advocate News
Jo Carroll Energy hosted a valuable class this past week, containing important information on “Pipeline Emergency Response Planning Information.” Two dates were offered at Manny’s Pizza in Fulton, and also Savanna.
Heidi Weber of Jo Carroll Energy introduced the instructor, Robert Soto of Paradigm Liaison Services, stating “We are really excited to have Robert with us, as he is very knowledgeable about the subject.”
Soto, a retired police officer from Wichita, Kansas presented information for EMS/Fire, and Police officers, as well as the general public who may come in contact with a pipeline emergency.
Jo Carroll Energy has 160 miles of pipeline, serving approximately 5,600 natural gas accounts. Distribution pipelines extend through Carroll and Whiteside counties with additional transmission pipelines in Rock Island, Henry, and Jackson Counties in Iowa.
Soto spoke of his 20 years as a police officer, stating “When we responded as cops to pipeline calls, we had to have ‘cheat sheets’ to help us know what to do. We didn’t know about natural gas emergencies. That’s why it’s important to educate you guys. It’s important for you to learn the responsibilities and resources of our government.
“There is no such thing as a routine call when dealing with natural gas.” Participants in the class learned the ways to detect a pipeline emergency, the proper agencies and numbers to call, the first response checklist, and reporting laws.
“In 1999, the pipeline emergency in Bellingham cost $42 million,” Soto said. “Police, Fire, and EMT’s are often the first on the scene of an emergency. Jo Carroll Energy wants to make sure that responders know how to recognize and manage these hazardous conditions to make everyone safer.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation requires the use of signs to indicate the location of underground pipelines. Markers are located on road, railroad, and navigable water way crossings. Markings are also posted along the pipeline right of way. Markers may not be located directly over the pipeline it marks. Many property owners believe that they have the right to remove pipeline markings on their property, but that is not the case. Markers are not to be removed by anyone other than a pipeline operator.
Jo Carroll participates in One-Call Centers and reminds those who are going to dig to call their state One-Call Center or 811, “Call before you dig hotline,” to allow utilities a chance to mark underground facilities in the area before digging begins.
Ways to recognizing a gas leak includes a blowing or hissing sound, dust blowing from a hole in the ground, continuous bubbling in wet or flooded areas, gaseous or sulfur like odor, dead or discolored vegetation in a green area, and flames, if a leak has ignited.
Jo Carroll odorizes its natural gas lines, but do not attempt to detect a natural gas leak by smell alone. Uncontrollable factors may eliminate or weaken the odor.
If you suspect a gas leak, here’s what you should do:
Evacuate the building or area immediately and prevent anyone from entering.
Abandon any equipment being used near the area.
Avoid any open flames.
Avoid introducing any sources of ignition.
Turn off radios, pagers, and cell phones or leave them in your vehicle if possible.
Do not use doorbells, light switches, matches or lighters.
Contact the local natural gas utility immediately to shut off the gas.
NEVER try to operate a pipeline valve or relief vent.
Do not attempt to extinguish a natural gas fire. LET IT BURN. Contact the local utility company, and wait for them to arrive. Meanwhile, evacuate the area and protect exposures.
Jo Carroll Energy representatives are more than willing to speak with organizations, or groups interested in learning about locations of pipelines, and the proper contact numbers. More information can be obtained by visiting www.jocarroll.com, or calling 800-858-5522.