Response Operations Continue At Williams Gas Pipeline Natural Gas Storage Facility
Emergency response operations at the Williams Gas Pipeline underground natural gas storage facility near Seminary, Mississippi continue at this hour with officials at Williams continuing the venting process of natural gas from the affected underground cavern at the facility. Covington County EMA Director Greg Sanford and Covington County Sheriff Ben Ford, along with emergency response officials from Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Jones County Emergency Management Agency, Forrest County Emergency Management Agency, Jones County Sheriff’s Department, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Mississippi Department of Health (MDH), Seminary Fire Department, Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health (CTEH), Willow Grove Water Association, Southwest Jones Water Association, National Weather Service and American Red Cross are in place at the Command Post. The following information is being relayed by Incident Command:
• As a safety precaution, we are still proceeding with the depressurization of the storage cavern as planned. The depressurization began about 3 p.m. CDT on Dec. 28.
• We’re still venting gas to the atmosphere. This is a controlled process.
• The natural gas vented into the atmosphere will dissipate into the air and does not pose a health hazard to neighbors.
• Since 3 p.m. yesterday we’ve vented about 400 million cubic feet. The flow rate is currently around 225 million cubic feet per day.
• We do not have an estimated timeline of how long the venting will take before the pressure in cavern 3 is zero.
• We are working closely with the families who have been temporarily displaced to meet their needs. We realize this is a tremendous inconvenience and appreciate their patience and understanding. National
Weather Service and American Red Cross are on the scene.
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Emergency response officials continue to work closely with Williams Gas Pipeline personnel with whom they are in constant contact with at the Command Post on Salt Dome Road. Covington County EMA Director Greg Sanford notes, “We are very appreciative of the patience and understanding of those evacuated from their homes during this incident and want them and the community to know that all of our actions are taken out of an abundance of caution.” He adds, “We are working closely with Sheriff Ben Ford and his staff to ensure site security and integrity of closed roadways as well as assisting family members with temporary entry into their homes to retrieve medication, clothing and personal items in addition to attending to any animals that are at their homes and/or property. At this time we do not have a firm idea of when evacuees may be allowed to return to their homes and are coordinating our emergency incident action plan along with Williams personnel to ensure everyone’s safety which is our top priority.”
Representatives from the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health (CTEH) have established six air monitoring stations along with handheld mobile monitors and have conducted over 2,500 air samples in the past twelve hours with no adverse readings detected. In addition, representatives from MDEQ and MDH, in coordination with Willow Grove Water Association and Southwest Jones Water Association, are conducting testing of ground water, well water and soil to ensure no contamination from the natural gas leak. A robust response to the incident, which was initiated following reports of the gas leak, will continue until the situation is successfully resolved.