Carbon pipeline companies respond to safety concerns

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 6:22 PM CDT
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - Last night we told you about concerns opponents to two carbon pipelines had about the safety of the projects.

After a rupture in Mississippi in 2020, and a government report released this year, fears about carbon dioxide exposure have risen. The companies say there are really three main changes: Making sure the pipelines are built inside solid ground, working with first responders on how to evacuate the area, and using a central command center to immediately notify authorities if a rupture occurs.

Read More: What a carbon pipeline rupture in Mississippi tells us about safety in Siouxland

As a reminder, federal regulators found that the pipe in Mississippi was built on a steep embankment, and record rainfall caused the pipe to become exposed and break.

Both Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2, the two local pipeline companies, say they’ll build their infrastructure to avoid difficult ground conditions. The federal government found the pipeline company in Mississippi failed to tell authorities what could happen if their pipe broke. The local pipeline companies say that won’t happen this time around.

“There’s an awareness and an acknowledgment and plans in place with all of those teams so that you don’t have the surprises, frankly, that took place in Satartia (Mississippi),” said Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, the Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for Navigator CO2.

In Mississippi, the company didn’t immediately notify first responders that a leak had occurred. The federal government’s report says no fatalities were reported, but 45 people sought medical attention at the local hospital.

Here’s a spokesperson for Summit Carbon Solutions when asked if a potential leak could be dangerous.

“It can be. And so one of the things that we’re in the process of doing is we’re doing computer modeling... what those risks are, what the area would look like, perhaps for, you know, some a dangerous area versus a nondangerous area,” said John Satterfield, director of Regulatory Affairs and Social Governance.

Both pipeline companies say they’ll have a command center that can identify any leaks and manually turn off local valves. They also say they’re meeting with local emergency management personnel to explain the risks and develop charts that would show which way a carbon dioxide plume would travel.

Safety aside, a spokesperson for Summit Carbon Solutions says over 50 percent of its track in Iowa is now under voluntary easement, but it’s unclear how much of the track will need to be finished using eminent domain.