– At a public hearing held today by Rep. Steve Barrar, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness (VAEP) Committee, testifiers 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,” Barrar said.
Plans that are in place now are generally unsuitable for vulnerable community members, such as people in nursing homes or those without a smart phone 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,” Barrar said. “Together, we must enhance safety measures to protect the public.”
Representative Stephen E. Barrar
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Alison Evans