Developing a Pipeline Emergency Response Plan

Pipelines play a huge role in the transportation of products that are crucial to our day-to-day lives, such as oil and gas. It goes without saying that safety is an absolute key factor in pipeline transportation, and while the success rate is extremely high, catastrophic pipeline emergencies do occur. It’s essential for companies operating them to have a plan in place in the event of an incident.

What is a pipeline emergency response plan?

The spilling of oil and other substances that pipelines carry is a serious hazard to the environment and the public as a whole. Even minor leaks can cause serious environmental damage and, if they occur, must be dealt with swiftly in order to ensure that any damage and health risks are minimal.

This is why pipeline operators need to create an effective response plan outlining the steps to take in an emergency. These plans are reviewed by a regulator, who will ensure they contain all of the necessary directions for responding to an incident. They contain several different types of information related to the management of an emergency, such as evacuation, where access points are located and the proper communication procedures. A major set of guidelines that pipeline operators adhere to in the event of an emergency is the Incident Command System (ICS), which was originally put in place in southern California during a series of wildfires in the 1970s.

Don’t Sacrifice Safety for Timeliness

During a pipeline emergency, it is crucial that the response plan keeps safety top of mind, reducing the risk to the public and any personnel that need to be on the scene to help contain the situation. It’s also important to consider factors such as nearby houses and other populated areas, bodies of water and any wildlife that has a habitat in the area.

Everything from property protection to site cleanup and decontamination must be included as a part of a pipeline emergency response plan, and constant reviewing and updates are crucial to ensure that they will be effective if an incident does take place. Regular exercises and collaboration with agencies and individuals that deal with emergency response are also extremely necessary. Residents who live in an area that could be impacted by a pipeline spill should be kept informed to what to do in the event of an emergency.

Preventing Spills With Proper Planning

Pipelines may play a crucial role in the transportation of essential substances such as oil and natural gas, but the potential for emergencies will always exist, and an effective response plan should be a top priority for pipeline operators, emergency agencies and any individuals who will play a role in dealing with an incident. The plan should be constantly reviewed, and exercises should be regularly conducted to ensure that every factor is considered and every step will help result in a fast, effective cleanup with as little risk to the public as possible.

Get the Proper Tools For Pipeline Safety at Ultra Torq

For more information on pipeline emergency response plans and the factors that should be considered in their creation, visit The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association.  Contact Ultra Torq today to request a demo of the tools that can minimize your risk of failure.