Emergency safety exercise tests plans, procedures at Dakota Gas

A safety evacuation exercise was held at the Great Plains Synfuels Plant in December to test communication, accountability, and the plant’s emergency notification system.

The emergency situation included a hypothetical flammable gas release.

The training and exercise plan for 2020 included a plant-wide evacuation exercise. However, due to concerns with COVID-19, the scope of the exercise was limited to accounting for all personnel on site and a test of the reverse 911 emergency notification system for all residents and businesses within a 4.5 mile radius of the facility. The exercise also included emergency notification to local, state, and federal agencies associated with a Class IV gas release outlined in the Synfuels Plant’s emergency plan.

Employees from protection services, as well as Synfuels Plant and contract employees who were onsite at the time of the exercise, participated.

Warren Herman, Dakota Gas safety coordinator, said several observations were noted as well as strengths and improvement opportunities as a result of the exercise. “Overall, I feel the exercise did just what it was meant to do … test the processes, procedures, and systems we have in place to effectively handle a situation like we had in this exercise," Herman said. “While there is always room for improvement, and most of the action items noted have already been corrected, I’m confident in the systems we have in place to handle situations we may have to navigate through in the future.”