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Dominion Reaches Out To Emergency Responders

By Staff | Oct 31, 2012

Pictured is Brian Sheppard, managing director of pipeline operations at Dominion, explaining emergency procedures and how local emergency responders would be involved, in the event an emergency would occur at the Dominion Natrium plant. (Photos by Lauren Riggs)

Representatives from Dominion, along with members of local emergency response groups, met recently at New Martinsville’s Lewis-Wetzel Center where Roger Clegg, Dominion safety specialist, gave a brief discussion of Dominion’s emergency response at the Natrium plant site. After lunch, the group then travelled to Dominion’s Natrium site, where emergency responders were given an on-site tour of parts of the plant.

Clegg referred to the event a “one of the many times I’ll be contacting you guys.” Dominion hopes to have local emergency response groups engaged in on-site visits frequently, as these visits offer the opportunity for responders to become familiar with the site, its staging areas, and its equipment. Dominion also looks forward to having tabletop exercises with responders, along with tours of the facility.

Besides local responders, Clegg also stressed Dominion’s goal to communicate with neighboring plants and the community. “If something happens, we want to communicate with the community as soon as possible,” he stated.

And as for its neighboring plants, Clegg stated, “We have something in place with PPG and Bayer.”

The Natrium plant also works with the Marshall/Wetzel Mutual Aid Agreement, Northern Ohio River Industrial Mutual Aid Council (NORIMAC), and the Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC) for Wetzel, Marshall, and Tyler counties. These plans “give us a certain sense of comfort,” Clegg stated.

Pictured are local emergency responders, along with representatives of the Dominion Natrium Plant, preparing to tour the site.

Dominion was also readily available to answer any questions or concerns responders had, such as how commodities were transported and if products were non-odorized or odorized (incoming gas is non-odorized because of the natural odor attributed to heavy hydrocarbons, but the final products will be odorized with mercaptan before transporting).

Each responder was then equipped with proper personal protection equipment, including hard hat, safety glasses, and vest for an on-site tour of the plant. During the tour, Brian Sheppard, managing director of pipeline operations at Dominion, along with Jeff Woodby, a shift foreman at Dominion, were able to give responders a detailed look at how some of the various pieces of infrastructure currently being built – from the storage spheres, to the distillation towers, to the rail loading bays – would function once the plant is fully built.

Sheppard also explained to the audience the plant’s protocol in the event a fire would occur. He explained the area would be isolated, all liquids would be removed from the area, and water would be used to cool the surrounding area. Equipment and other energy sources would also be kept from the area. This would, Sheppard said, allow the fire to “burn itself out.”

When asked if gas detection was installed around the area, Sheppard said portable detection devices were currently around the area, but over the next couple of years, the full perimeter of the plant would have permanent gas detection.

Other Dominion staff on hand to answer questions asked of the visitors included Ray Seech, director NGL operations; Robert C. Orndorff Jr., managing director of West Virginia and state local affairs; and Christine Mitchell, compliance coordinator for Dominion Natrium, who assured the visitors that Dominion Natrium, LLC will fully comply with all state, federal, and OSHA regulations. As for an update of the Natrium site, Charles E. Penn Sr., manager of media/community relations, stated, “Construction activity is robust as we continue to work toward our December in-service date.” By then, Dominion hopes to be processing 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day along. The plant will also fractionate 36,000 barrels of natural gas liquids per day.

Several railroad bays are in the process of being constructed at the Dominion Natrium Plant.

Last week The Intelligencer reported that now more than 900 construction workers are building on the $500 million plant.

Penn reported that 903 workers are working on the project. Out of these 903, he said, 299 are local workers. Penn told The Intelligencer that after completion of the plant, Dominion will look to hire 40-45 full-time, permanent workers for jobs at the plant. These jobs will reportedly pay $20-$30 per hour. Different skills are required for these positions.

Some workers will need electrical experience in an industrial setting, while others will need experience in process operation control that they may have from working in gas, paper, water, or chemical plants. There will also be positions for rail and tanker truck loading.

When asked of what Dominion hoped to accomplish through meeting with responders, Penn stated, “Our goal is always to forge a genuine working partnership and relationship with emergency responders in the communities we operate in. Emergency responders provide a valuable service to our communities. We want to make sure we are fully engaged with them, sharing information and training, when appropriate, and keeping the lines of communication flowing continuously. If we were to have an event, the relationships and infrastructure is in place to ensure a cohesive response.”

After the Oct. 5 site tour, it was learned that the Wetzel County Ambulance Authority, the Grandview Volunteer Fire Department, and New Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department all received monetary donations from Dominion.