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Come Rain, Sleet, Snow, or Hail...Are you Prepared for an Emergency?

Posted on Thu, Jan 19, 2012

A few months ago, AccuWeather came out with its long range United States’ forecast through the winter 2011/2012. The prediction was that cold and snowy weather will prevail across a large section of the country. Although snow amounts are predicted to be less than what was experienced last year, ice could be potential problem as far south as Alabama and Georgia. But despite predictions, companies should be prepared to deal with whatever unusual weather events may occur.

Depending on a facility’s specific latitude and longitude, a site-specific risk analysis for severe weather should be conducted for each facility, and plans should be prepared accordingly. Specific weather planning checklists can be developed for blizzards, floods, ice, tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes. Despite the weather situation, many common best practices can be implemented into a weather planning checklist including, but not limited to the following action items:

  • Monitor news and weather reports on television or radio (with battery backup)
  • Alert personnel  on-site that severe weather is approaching and communicate specific expectations and responsibilities
  • Be aware of the site specific dangers posed by wind, ice, snow falling from equipment and buildings, and mediate if possible
  • Identify product release dangers posed by heavy snow, flooding, wind, or ice falling on exposed piping
  • If applicable, insulate and protect any exterior water lines or piping
  • Identify and contract companies to assist in extreme weather events, such as snow, water, or tree removal services
  • Obtain basic necessary weather-related equipment (snow shovels, ice scrapers, rock salt, tire chains, backup generators, cooling stations)
  • Ensure that vehicles have a full tank of gas and are functioning properly
  • Ensure flashlights are in proper working order and have additional batteries on site
  • Monitor precipitation accumulation on or around any tanks, sheds or buildings
  • If appropriate, leave water taps slightly open so they drip continuously to prevent pipes from freezing
  • Identify and understand response techniques when responding to product spills that may flow under ice or snow, or within flood waters
  • Establish and maintain communication with onsite and offsite personnel
  • Monitor or limit vehicle traffic
  • Maintain building temperature at acceptable levels and understand safety measures if using space heaters or generators
  • Notify supervisors if a power failure occurs or if a facility is otherwise unable to operate due to weather circumstances


For an understanding of the necessary elements in creating an effective fire pre plan, download our Fire Pre Planning Guide.


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Tags: Corporate Hurricane Preparedness, Earthquake Preparedness, Power Failure, Business Continuity, Emergency Preparedness, Emergency Management Program, Extreme Weather, Hurricane Preparedness, Flood Preparedness

Are the Floods of 2011 affecting Pipeline Safety?

Posted on Mon, Aug 15, 2011

2011 may be remembered for numerous natural disasters, including the massive river flooding in the central United States. As seen in history, flooding has the potential to affect pipeline safety and increase the risk of failure.

According to the Research and Special Programs Administration of the Dept. of Transportation and the Texas Railroad Commission, extreme force of flowing water, heavy floating debris, natural erosion, and increased water pressure from high water can adversely affect pipelines. In October 1994, as the result of unprecedented flooding of rivers and streams in the Houston area, seven natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines failed in or near the San Jacinto River in Texas.

Just as in the San Jacinto River flooding, the Yellowstone River near Laurel, Montana seems to be carving a deeper channel, leaving the arteries of industrial pipeline exposed. It appears to pipeline operators that the recent pipeline rupture in the area may have resulted from recent flooding.

On Jul 8th, the Billings Gazette reported, “In the Billings and Laurel area, there is a loose web of oil and gas lines that cross beneath the Yellowstone River at least 10 times, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Pipeline Mapping System. Most of the lines were installed by trench, years before directional boring made threading pipes deep below the river possible. Trenched pipelines are in compliance if they’re 48 inches below the riverbed.”

However, as flood waters change the landscape, pipelines may become susceptable to damage. Pipeline safety regulations in 49 CFR 192.613 for natural gas pipelines, and 49 CFR 195.401 for hazardous liquid pipelines, require an operator to maintain continued surveillance of its facilities. Operators need to direct their resources in a manner that will enable them to determine potential effects of flooding on their systems.

The following are recommended industrial facility planning procedures in case of impending or extreme flooding:

  1. Perform continuous monitoring of the flood through various media outlets and weather tracking.
    Flash flood watch:  flooding is possible
    Flash flood warning: flooding is occurring or is imminent
  2. Update Supervisory Personnel when flooding is imminent.
  3. Deploy personnel so that they will be in position to take emergency actions, such as shut down, isolation, or containment in the event of emergency.
  4. Familiarize staff with the evacuation plan
  5. Take preliminary actions to secure the facility and equipment before flooding (such as sand bagging and/or extending regulator vents and relief stacks above the level of anticipated flooding, as appropriate.)
  6. Evaluate the accessibility of pipeline facilities that may be in jeopardy, such as valves needed to isolate water crossings or other sections of a pipeline.
  7. Consider having sandbags brought to sites that could be affected by the flooding.
  8. Consider obtaining portable pumps and hoses from local suppliers or from other petroleum service locations in the area.
  9. Determine if flooding has exposed or undermined pipelines as a result of the flooding or by erosion or scouring.
  10. Coordinate with emergency and spill responders on pipeline location(s) and condition, and provide maps and other relevant information to them.
  11. Coordinate with other pipeline operators in the flood area and establish emergency response centers to act as liaison for pipeline problems and solutions.
  12. Determine if facilities and/or equipment which are normally above ground (e.g., valves, regulators, relief sets, etc.) have become submerged and are in danger of being struck by vessels or debris; if possible, such facilities may be marked with an appropriate buoy with Coast Guard approval.
  13. Before evacuation, know where all the employees will be residing and obtain phone numbers so they can be contacted if additional emergencies occur.
  14. Perform surveys to determine the depth of cover over pipelines and the condition of any exposed pipelines, such as those crossing scour holes. Where appropriate, surveys of underwater pipe should include the use of visual inspection by divers or instrumented detection. Information gathered by these surveys should be shared with landowners. Agricultural agencies may help to inform farmers of the potential hazard from reduced cover over pipelines.
  15. Assure that line markers are still in place or are replaced in a timely manner, and notify contractors, highway departments, and others involved in post-flood restoration activities of the presence of pipelines and the risks posed by reduced cover.
  16. Advise the State Pipe-line Safety Office (for intrastate lines), or RSPA's Regional Pipeline Safety Office (interstate lines) prior to returning the line to service, on increasing the operating pressure, or otherwise changing the operating status of the line.
  17. Conduct a post-emergency report.
  18. Maintain hazards awareness

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Best Practices for Crisis Management.

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Tags: Emergency Preparedness, Crisis Management, Facility Management, Flood Preparedness

Emergency Response Plan - Annexes for Added Incident Management

Posted on Mon, Aug 08, 2011

According to FEMA, the basic emergency operations plan should provide a broad scope of responses for potential emergency and crisis situations. Additional emergency response annexes that focus on hazard, threat, or incident-specific response needs can be added to broaden a site-specific basic plan to encompass the full range of hazards associated with a facility. These annexes contain unique and regulatory response details that apply to a single hazard, such as a pandemic response or hurricane plan. Depending upon the emergency operation plan’s structure and content amount, hazard-specific information may be included as either separate functional annexes or stand-alone hazard-specific annexes.

Hazard or incident-specific annexes should include many of the same details of the basic operations plan including, but not limited to:

  • Details of hazard-specific location(s)
  • Evacuation routes
  • Plot Plans
  • Specific provisions and protocols for warning employees, the public and disseminating emergency  information
  • Personal protective equipment and detection devices
  • Policies and processes for each specific hazard
  • Roles and responsibilities

Just as in the basic emergency operations plan, a planning team may use supporting documents as needed to clarify the contents of the incident specific plan. These supporting documents can include hazard specific aerial and facility maps, charts, tables, checklists, resource inventories, and summaries of critical information. For example, the hurricane plan may be made clearer by attaching maps marked with evacuation routes or shelter in place areas. Evacuation routes may change depending on the location or scale of the hazard.

Hazard-specific operational information usually includes, but is not limited to:

  • Assessment and control of the hazard information
  • Identification of unique prevention and preparedness of critical infrastructure/key resources
  • Protective actions
  • Communications procedures and warning systems
  • Implementation of protective actions
  • Identification of short-term stabilization actions
  • Implementation of recovery actions.

It is crucial to identify the critical functions necessary for a successful emergency response to a specific hazard in the planning development stage.  This may include identifying alternate communications methods in the event of a hurricane or pinpointing essential personnel to implement a pandemic plan. Hazard-specific annexes should follow the same layout and organizational format as the main operational plan to ensure consistency.

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Best Practices for Crisis Management.

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Tags: Pandemic Planning, Fire Pre Plans, Emergency Preparedness, Crisis Management, Facility Management, Emergency Management Program, Security plans, Terrorism Threat Management, FEMA, Hurricane Preparedness, Flood Preparedness