Friday, May 31, 2019

House Hearing Highlighted Need For Planned Public Safety Response To Pipelines

On May 30, the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee held a hearing in Media, Delaware County which highlighted both the regulations designed to make pipelines a safe way to transport product and the need to have an emergency response plan in the event of a leak.
Currently, the response plan – if one is even available – is often prepared by local officials and shared with residents with little uniformity from one municipality to another.
There’s often a chain of command that involves a hierarchy of people who must make specific decisions prior to the information being shared with the public.
“One of the top priorities of the VAEP Committee is ensuring public safety, and today’s hearing demonstrated the need for improvement in the event of a pipeline emergency. The quicker we can communicate effectively at that critical time, the more lives we’ll be able to save,” said Rep. Stephen Barrar (R-Delaware), who serves as Majority Chair of the Committee.
Plans that are in place now are generally unsuitable for vulnerable community members, such as people in nursing homes or those without a smartphone who would not receive a mass alert, according to Tim Boyce, director of Delaware County’s Department of Emergency Services and the county’s emergency management coordinator.
Joseph McGinn, vice president of public affairs and government relations for Energy Transfer, testified that there are more than 1,000 miles of pipeline in the Commonwealth, which demonstrates the need for effective communication, preparedness and planning.
Testifiers from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Pennsylvania Office of the State Fire Commissioner (OSFC) shared their dedication to training emergency responders so they are prepared if a pipeline is compromised. In fact, more than 500 emergency responders have received pipeline training provided by the OSFC.
“It is our job as policymakers to ensure that the public remains safe and that private industry, as well as state and local governments, do everything possible to prevent dangerous emergency situations from occurring in our communities,” Rep. Barrar said. “Together, we must enhance safety measures to protect the public.”
Those presenting comments at the hearing included--
-- Representatives Chris Quinn (R-Delaware) and Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester);
-- Tim Boyce, director of the Delaware County Department of Emergency Services and county emergency management coordinator;
-- Joseph McGinn, vice president of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Energy Transfer/Sunoco Pipelines;
-- Bill Godsey, president and chief executive officer for Geo Logic Environmental Services;
-- David Padfield, acting director of the PA Emergency Management Agency;
-- Bruce Trego, State Fire Commissioner;
-- Bibianna Dussling, veteran naval officer and co-president of Middletown Coalition for Community Safety;
-- Eric Friedman, president of Andover Homeowner’s Association Inc. and MCCS board member;
-- George Alexander, leadership team member for Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety;
-- Gladys Brown Dutrieuille, chairman of the Public Utility Commission; and
-- Paul Metro, manager of the safety division of the bureau of investigation and enforcement of the Public Utility Commission.
Rep. Stephen Barrar (R-Delaware) serves as Majority Chair of the Committee, and can be contacted by calling 717-783-3038 or by sending email to: Rep. Chris Sainato (D-Lawrence) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717- 772-2436 or by sending email to:
(Photo: Rep. Barrar.)
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