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New Pipeline Projects Prompt Emergency Concerns

Emergency Management has initial plans in place.

CO2 transport pipelines are projected to be buried in the area. These pipelines could be subject to earth movements or other events that could allow for a rupture in the lines.

While the event is labeled as unlikely, the possibility exists and what would area communities do under a CO2 gas cloud pushed by the winds to their area.

According to Winnebago and Hancock County Emergency Management Coordinator Andy Buffington, it would take a coordinated effort utilizing a number of area emergency responders.

Local community emergency services could possibly respond in kind to the situation. As Buffington points out, some of these city emergency services may be limited through manpower as to what they can do to lend a hand.

Hancock and Winnebago Counties are continually looking for more Emergency Medical Techs and Paramedics. The need for those personnel is great in some locations. Firefighters who would also respond to these types of disasters are available in both counties to try and get a handle on the situation too. According to Buffington, both of these personnel are continually trained to handle these emergencies.

According to the Congressional Research Service, “…as concentrations increase, CO2 displaces oxygen—which may cause a range of negative health impacts, including suffocation. Pipeline CO2 also may contain potentially hazardous contaminants, such as hydrogen sulfide. Because CO2 is colorless, odorless, and heavier than air, an uncontrolled release may spread undetected near the ground or in confined spaces. Therefore, CO2 pipelines pose a public safety risk, as demonstrated by the February 22, 2020, CO2 pipeline rupture in Satartia, MS, which led to a local evacuation and caused 45 people to be hospitalized.” The type of failure was natural force where a landslide placed too much pressure on the pipeline causing $3,947,009 in damages.

Buffington assures everyone that an initial stage plan is in place to combat a disaster such as this. However, a measure that goes to public vote in the general election in November may help increase Winnebago County ambulatory staffing to respond to a crisis like this or any other that may happen.





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