Senate Committee Approves Baker Bill on Wellsite Safety

HARRISBURG—(May 24, 2011) A bill that will speed up the response time of police, fire and ambulance crews to accidents at Marcellus Shale wellsites has received the unanimous approval of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, chaired by the legislation’s sponsor, Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20).

“Public safety comes first,” Baker said. “With so many new wellsites being drilled and more on the horizon, we must take every responsible precaution against accidents and prepare for the unexpected,” Baker said.

“First responders have been telling me they often don’t know where wellsites are being drilled or what dangers they will face when they arrive on scene, should they be called to a fire, spill, leak, worker injury or other emergency,” Baker said. “We need the best information-sharing and coordination possible to prevent the loss of life and property.”

Baker’s legislation requires operators to post signs bearing their GPS coordinates and other emergency response information at all wellsites and share those coordinates with appropriate state and local officials.

If enacted, well operators must develop and share their emergency response plans with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and their county’s 911 center.

“It is extremely important for the gas industry to coordinate emergency response plans with first responders and state and local officials,” Baker said. “This issue is too important to leave up to voluntary compliance.”

“When every second counts in an emergency, this bill will cut down on emergency response time and keep small incidents from escalating into major accidents. By having plans in place, many accidents can be prevented,” Baker said.

Baker is pushing for a vote by the full Senate in June.

Contact: Diane McNaughton
(717) 787-7428

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