Keeping Pipelines Safe/Practices & Protocols: the Role LEPCs and Local Government Play in Emergency Response Planning

Kinder Morgan seeks to maintain a strong working relationship with Local Emergency Planning Committee’s (LEPCs) on pipelines and facilities within its geographic footprint. LEPCs are organizations that provide a mechanism for local governments, citizens and industry to work together in planning for an integrated response to emergency incidents.

While no two LEPCs are structured exactly the same, by law they must consist of representatives from the following sectors: elected state and local officials; law enforcement; emergency management organizations; firefighters; first aid and other health organizations; local environmental and transportation agencies; hospitals; broadcast and print media; key community groups; and representatives of facilities subject to the emergency planning community right-to-know requirements. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are more than 3,000 known LEPCs in the U.S.

Emergency plans for LEPCs must include:

  • The identity and location of hazardous materials
  • Procedures for immediate response to a chemical release
  • Ways to notify the public about actions they must take
  • Contact information of coordinators at facilities/plants
  • Schedules, plans and steps for testing the plan

Once the plan is established, LEPCs must promote it through such means as public meetings, newspaper announcements, soliciting public comments and periodically testing the plan by conducting response exercises. LEPC plans must be reviewed and if necessary updated at least annually. This review should include findings gleaned from exercises, actual incident responses, as well as other sources such as hazmat commodity flow studies. As with other activities related to effective preparedness, training is a vital component for LEPCs.

In April 2019, Dan Eggleston, head of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) testified before Congress the need for LEPCs and the pipeline industry to have a close relationship, especially in regards to training and testing. “A public/private partnership is critical to ensuring that a response goes smoothly in case of a pipeline incident,” Eggleston said. “It is important that local officials and the pipeline operators do not meet for the first time at the incident scene. They must develop emergency response plans ahead of time and share information on how they will operate in an emergency. These plans are not just bureaucratic documents; they set out important lifesaving operations in a moment of crisis.”

Eggleston laid out what both the response and pipeline community should specifically do. “It is important that all local authorities, including the local fire department leadership, work with regional pipeline operators to prepare for a rupture or leak”, he said. “The pipeline operator must develop an emergency response plan that addresses the potential hazards that may occur and how to respond to these incidents in an effective manner. The local fire department will have to identify where pipelines are in their community and familiarize themselves with the possible risks. The fire department also will have to preplan how it will respond to an incident, including by working with emergency managers and local law enforcement about how to carry out an evacuation order; working with local hospitals and public health officials in case of a mass casualty incident; and with local elected officials and the news media to ensure that the appropriate messaging is given to the public.”

Kinder Morgan welcomes the opportunity to discuss its response plans and forge better relationships with LEPCs and emergency response organizations.

Subscribe to The Responder

Share The Responder

Download a PDF of the Current Issue