GONZALES — The Ascension Parish Council’s Strategic Planning Committee on Monday discussed the parish’s response to an Aug. 28 incident in Pelican Point subdivision, and how to handle future responses.
An oxygen pipeline owned by Air Liquide, of Houston, ruptured when a contract boring in a remote area off La. 44 near Donaldson Drive struck it, forcing nearby residents in the northern part of the subdivision to evacuate, authorities have said.
The director of the Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Rick Webre, said in any such instance the top priority is public safety.
First responders and the parish’s First Call Emergency Notification network had the area evacuated within 45 minutes, he said.
The chairman of the Strategic Planning Committee, Kent Schexnaydre, said he was concerned that officials and residents did not know if the pipeline was leaking flammable gas, and that the parish’s response was not quick enough.
“A lot of people were hanging around trying to find out what was going on,” he said.
Councilman Benny Johnson, however, said 45 minutes really is not that long during a response such as a pipeline leak.
“These things take a little bit of time to evaluate what you’re dealing with,” Johnson said.
Webre said the parish has no ordinances in place outlining any ramifications for companies whose pipelines are ruptured, and Parish President Tommy Martinez said that’s something the council should consider.
Johnson agreed, saying the council should continually look at improving the procedures it has in place.
Schexnaydre, meanwhile, said he was concerned that if the council does not address the issue, the next pipeline leak could be worse and a bigger public safety risk.
“We don’t want to drop this without making sure it’s in the best interests of everyone here and everyone’s safety,” he said.