REX Admits Mistakes, Works With EMA

by Katie Jeffries on December 18, 2009 at 6:49 am

Just more than a month ago a pipe in the Rockies Express Pipeline ruptured just south of Philo. Now the company is admitting to first responders, it made mistakes.

"I think the ball was dropped by Rockies initially and they admitted too that they did not get out and train with us, they did not give us a lot of phone numbers or contact number and I believe all that was straightened out at the meeting," says Bo Keck, Director of the Muskingum County Emergency Management Agency.

In response to the pipeline rupture on November 14th, Rockies Express Pipeline officials met with first responders and the Muskingum County Emergency Management Agency to apologize and make amends. Keck says the pipeline officials are looking into getting fire departments special equipment they can use during a rupture and give specific training to first responders on how to handle a pipeline rupture.

"Training is something that number one they apologized that they have not done any prior to our meeting or prior to the event that they had and they have offered, they have a regular training program that they went over with us," says Keck.

Pipeline officials did praise local first responders for evacuating residents. Yet, back on the day of the rupture I spoke with residents who lived near the compressor station who said they were not happy pipeline employees did not warn them there was a problem.

"I looked out my back window where I can see their driveway and I saw them going every which way as quickly as they could go. So I assumed there was a problem," told Cheryl Crowder, who lives near the compressor station, the day of the rupture.

"That day the people at the pump station obviously knew there was an issue and they did not call 911 right away and Rockies has agreed they are re-training their people," says Keck. 

The Crowders and other residents near the compressor station said the day of the rupture, they wanted some type of immediate notification to evacuate such as a siren, but Keck says a siren is not a feasible option. Instead the county is using a system to notify people by phone.   While residents may still be leery of the pipeline, Keck says he feels the county is in good shape with their Emergency Preparedness Plan and the Rockies Express Pipeline says pipeline ruptures are a rare occurrence. But if it does happen again, Keck says they are ready.

"I think we have learned from it, I know that Rockies has learned from it and I think we are in good shape now," tells Keck.

The cause of the rupture is still under investigation, but the Rockies Express Pipeline says it is fixing the pipe.