ETX first responders undergoing pipeline emergency response training
HOUSTON COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -
Houston County first responders will undergo pipeline emergency response training on Thursday. Nacogdoches County crews had their first session on Wednesday.
That training is part of a federally mandated training happening across East Texas counties, following the beginning of service on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline last week. Officials said that the training will take place annually, preparing local crews for the worst case scenario.
The company that runs the pipeline, TransCanada, said it is the safest one they have ever built.
“No other pipeline has been built to date that has all of these safety standards and operating conditions,” said a company spokesperson. “They include things like higher number of remotely controlled shut off valves, increased pipeline inspections, higher construction standards, increased standards for pipeline integrity and maintenance and burying the pipeline deeper in the ground."
County officials agree with that assessment by the company.
"Pipelines are much more safer in transporting this type of product than going out 59 our using the railway system,” said Nacogdoches County Judge Joe English.
But those measures have failed to alleviate the concerns of many East Texans against the project.
Nacogdoches group NacSTOP held a demonstration just last week, marking opposition to day one of service on the pipeline. Their biggest concerns are things that emergency responders are learning about in their training sessions this week.
Participants are walked through virtual scenarios of responding to a gas explosion, as well as instructed on what products will be flowing through the pipeline and how to handle the hazards if they leak.
“We talk about the different products,” said instructor Lee Nusbaum. “We talk about the characteristics and the hazards to those products. We give them an idea of what they're dealing with.”
Officials said should residents ever encounter a problem, the correct number to dial is 811. That will alert company officials and local responders should a situation arise.