As the largest tonnage port in the western hemisphere, encompassing 54 miles of the Mississippi River, spanning three Louisiana parishes, and receiving 4,000 deep-draft vessels and 55,000 barges on average annually, the Port of South Louisiana is well-positioned to respond to river emergencies.
Pipeline strikes are an all too frequent occurrence causing loss of life, damage to property, and immense harm to the environment. The threat of striking a submerged pipeline is one that all mariners face, and statistics illustrate the danger. In a 20-year period, 118 pipeline strikes were reported. These incidents resulted in 25 fatalities and 17 injuries. The environmental impact was devastating, with more than 100,000 barrels of oil spilled and property damage in the hundreds of million dollars. Sadly, all were incidents that could have been prevented.
Pipelines are arteries that transfer crude oil and natural gas from wells on land and offshore to refineries and chemical plants, where it becomes fuel, chemicals and other products used by every American each day. This pipeline infrastructure is critical to fueling America’s industries and to our nation’s prosperity. A map of the pipeline infrastructure shows the connection to more than 4,000 platforms and over 33,000 active wells in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River Region. It’s a graphic example of the enormity of the network.
Unfortunately, statistics show that third-party damage by marine vessels is among the most common causes of the pipeline industry’s largest releases of hydrocarbon products. If you operate a vessel, any time you drop anchor, dredge, lay pipe, drive pilings, wheel-wash, or jack down – basically anytime the water bottom is disturbed – you must have the proper permission required by state law, through calling the free 811 clearance service.
In order to respond to emergencies within its jurisdiction, the Port of South Louisiana is equipped with four response vessels: the Nathan Folse, the John James Charles, the Port Support Vessel Accardo, and the PSV Responder. The Port also employs a rigid hull boat for search and rescue.
Situated within the Port of South Louisiana’s Globalplex Facility (adjacent to building 76) is a state-of-the-art incident command center, equipped with closed circuit television cameras and satellite communications capabilities. The facility also includes emergency accommodations for emergency first responders. Port personnel are highly trained professionals with years of experience in safety and emergency response scenarios.