McCracken County First responders prepare for pipeline hazards

First responders are coming up with a plan to keep you safe once construction on a pipeline running through our area starts.

Energy Transfer operates two natural gas pipelines in our area. One is being converted to carry crude oil.

The pipeline will carry more than 450,000 barrels of oil from Patoka, Illinois, through local counties including Massac and McCracken in Kentucky and Lake County in Tennessee. Then, the oil heads to refineries on the Gulf Coast. 

About a mile from the pipelines, Howard Thompson keeps an eye on the construction from his home.

"I remember when I was a kid going down there with my dad when they were putting it in," Thompson said.

He’s lived in different homes in different states, but Thompson has always lived near the same pipelines. "They’re pretty well on top of everything," he said.

McCracken County first responders want that to continue. Emergency Management Director Jerome Mansfield says this is why the local emergency planning committee met on Monday to learn about changes being made to the pipeline. 

"Our society definitely needs these hazardous chemicals that go into so many products, but they do have hazardous aspects we have to plan for," Mansfield said.

The typical gas line you’d see on your property is a half inch. This pipeline is 30 inches and will carry crude oil.

Dick Paetzold manages the line from Johnsonville, Illinois, to the Kentucky-Tennessee border. He says the oil will come from another pipeline with oil straight out of the North Dakota oil fields. 

"This is a highly volatile product that has natural gas and oil components in it," Paetzold said. He says it’s not any more dangerous than the natural gas it has been transporting for decades.

"You have to respect both products and maintain the integrity of pipeline," Paetzold said

The safety of landowners around it is a priority.

You are asked to call 811 before digging on your property to make sure there are no utility lines. Paetzold says even if you don’t live near the pipeline, this is the best way to prevent a disaster.

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