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Koch: Safety with pipeline construction a priority

By Susan Stewart / L’Observateur / February 16, 1998

LAPLACE – A local company will construct a pipeline that will pass through a portion of St. John the Baptist Parish. Koch Pipeline Southeast Inc. is anticipating construction of a 12-inchdiameter natural gas liquids pipeline, which will originate in Mobile County, Ala., and terminate in Assumption Parish.Philip Ellender, Koch spokesman, said every possible safety measure is taken with a project of this sort.

Construction and standards of this project will meet or exceed standards set by the State of Louisiana, Department of Natural Resources, Office of Conservation, Pipeline Division, he said.

Parish Engineer C. J. Savioe told the Parish Council that he doesn’tperceive any problems with the project.

“You shouldn’t have any objections to this pipeline because they will be staying in existing corridors and going across private property, so I don’t see any reason you’d object to it,” Savioe said.

The pipeline will cross under two bayous in St. John Parish, both of which will be bored a minimum depth of 48 inches to top of pipe below the ditch level. This method was chosen to avoid disturbing the flow or banks of thecanal.

The bayous it will run through are Bayou Quatre Pattes and Bayou Becnel.

The natural gas liquids that will run through the pipe will originate from a gas plant in Mobile, then these natural gas liquids in turn will go into the facility in Belle Rose in Assumption Parish where they are turned into chemicals such as propane and butane, Ellender said.

Like several residents who during a public forum sought assurance from Koch officials that the environmental impact would be kept at a minimal, Councilman Ranney Wilson asked: “No more trees will be taken out, will they?” “No,” Steward Rogers, also with Koch, quickly responded.

Rogers said the original route had been changed “for less environmental impact.” “What if there is a leak in this line. Would it be detected?” one concernedcitizen asked.

Koch engineer Theron Cummings said: “We have block lines, and if there is a leak, which is highly unlikely, we’d immediately shut off the valves,” he assured.

Bertram Madere, director of civil defense for the parish asserted: “If this pipeline is a possible risk to our roadway, they’d have to have inspectors approved by us.” Madere also advised the company to pay attention to any digging that might affect drainage.

“For safety of our residents, I’d like Koch to check into the possibility that if there were an accident none of our residents would be harmed,” Madere challenged.

“Oh, absolutely,” Ellender said, adding that before constructing a pipeline and while constructing and even after it’s in, it’s their job to make certain that the pipeline is built safety and operated safely. Also, thepipeline is monitored 24 hours every day through an extensive computer system.

“We also work with the local emergency planning committee in the unlikely event that something like that would happen,” Ellender said.

Ellender said throughout the River Parishes, Koch Industries has already secured 83 percent of the signatures needed to move ahead with the installation of the pipeline.

“We have the necessary right-of-way easements because this would be private residential property that we are running the pipeline through,” Ellender said.

Residents in turn receive money from the state in exchange for their property.

Koch Industries has pipelines throughout 59 of the 64 parishes in Louisiana. Ellender said that in itself speaks volumes on behalf of theexisting record of safety measures.

Additionally to assure its safety in a community that borders both on industrial as well as residential, Ellender said Koch coordinates with environmental organizations and groups to make certain that pipelines are done right. In doing so, Ellender said Koch works extensively with the LakePontchartrain Basin Foundation to not only build this pipeline, but to make sure it’s done right.

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