Region prepares for pipeline emergencies - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Region prepares for pipeline emergencies

Emergency responders prepare for possible pipeline emergencies. Emergency responders prepare for possible pipeline emergencies.
Pipeline safety class Pipeline safety class
Pipeline safety class Pipeline safety class
Camilla Fire Chief Jamie Sullivan Camilla Fire Chief Jamie Sullivan
Kenneth Burns Kenneth Burns
CAMILLA, GA (WALB) -

You may drive over them every day.

Underground pipelines carrying natural gas, crude oil, and chemical products. 

With construction on the controversial Sabal Trail pipeline projected to begin in May or June, emergency crews say they need to prepare for the worst.

On Friday, fire, police, and gas departments from around the region gathered in Camilla for a pipeline safety class. 

They said pipeline explosions are rare, but it is still critical for them to know how to respond. 

"It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when," said instructor Kenneth Burns. 

Burns said his goal is to make sure the men and women who protect this region are prepared for a low frequency but high risk incident: a pipeline emergency. 

"We're trying to get a system in place where people are aware of it, start preparing for it, start training on how to do it, and who the key players are that are going to need to take to come and mitigate something at that size and scope," he said. 

Camilla Fire Chief Jamie Sullivan said this safety class couldn't have come at a better time. 

"Some new pipelines are on the way, and we just want to be prepared," said Chief Sullivan. "There are some major pipelines that are going to be coming through our communities and we want to know that we are ahead of the curve."

Chief Sullivan said many of these emergency responders drive over pipelines every day, without any knowledge of it.  

"It has been an eye opener for a lot of guys. 'Hey, I see that marker every day of my life, but I did not realize how big that pipeline or how many pounds of pressures was in that pipeline going under my community,'" Chief Sullivan said.

And even the most natural of causes, like earthquakes or lightning, can damage a pipeline and cause explosions.

Burns said these safety classes prevent emergency personnel from becoming complacent. 

"Bad things can happen," said Burns. "So we have to be prepared because we are talking about moving millions of gallons, or millions of barrels a day through these pipelines."

Burns added that it is critical for people to call 811 at least two days before you start digging in your yard.  

That will notify utility companies so they can mark infrastructure underground, which will prevent any pipelines from being damaged. 

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