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Pipeline safety training offered as accidents increase

Pipeline accidents around the country are on the rise. In fact, more than a dozen pipeline workers have been killed on the job in the recent years. This has caused great concern for the National Transportation Safety Board, which decided to respond by offering pipeline safety training sessions so that emergency workers are ready to respond and save lives when accidents happen.

More than 500 emergency workers, including officials and excavators, met from four central-Texas counties last week to learn about pipeline accidents and be trained on best practices for rescue. Many of the attendees had been to training sessions in the past and have never experienced a pipeline explosion, but continue to attend training for the unfortunate chance that it could happen in such a dangerous field of work.

The recent training was offered by Paradigm Liaison Services, LLC, which was hired by participating pipeline operators. A spokesperson for Paradigm said that the session is intended to educate people who could come in contact with a pipeline accident, including excavators, firefighters, emergency medical providers, law enforcement officials and even 911 dispatchers. The goal is to make it so all people responding to a pipeline incident are on the same page and know how to safely act, he said.

Paradigm said it holds training sessions in about 40 states across the county for nearly 400 pipeline, transmission, gathering and distribution operators. In the U.S. there are currently more than 2.4 million miles of pipeline. The most recent pipeline accident fatalities took place in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia. Eight people were also killed in a gas explosion in San Bruno, California, last September.

The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating several pipeline accidents, including a natural gas pipeline that exploded last June in the Texas Panhandle after it was hit by a bulldozer. That accident killed two.

Source: Midland Daily News, "Pipeline accidents prompt training," Lisa Satayut, 3/13/2011.

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