They have a plan.
Power plant developers with Invenergy LLC submitted a 38-page hazard assessment and a draft emergency response plan earlier this month, as part of their application for a conditional use permit. The plan serves as an explanation for Jessup officials on how Invenergy will handle a worst-case scenario at its proposed 1,500-megawatt facility in the borough.
The document conveys strict guidelines to train employees, build safety and security redundancies into the plant and explains what kinds of chemicals are to be stored on site for a number of processes.
The draft emergency response plan gives step-by-step instructions for several kinds of emergencies and also explains what training, protective gear and safety equipment workers must have on site.
“We follow applicable state and federal codes and laws when preparing plans for a new site,” Invenergy spokeswoman Mary Ryan said in an email, explaining further that the company follows state Department of Environmental Protection standards while devising the plan.
Invenergy is looking to build a natural-gas-fired power plant in the borough, where around 200 million cubic feet of gas would be burned daily during peak production times. The conditional use permit is one step in getting local approval to build. The company still needs land development approval from the borough and several key permits from the DEP.
Borough fire chief and emergency management coordinator Steve Pitoniak said he reviewed the plan, and other than a few minor clarifications, he had no concerns.
“One of the notations in there, they mention the county sheriff, when it should be Jessup police and state police,” he said, and added that the company met with emergency workers before c drafting the document. “When we sat down with them a couple of months ago, we gave them information that they incorporated into this plan,” he said.
The plan establishes a chain of command among workers and guides them on how to react in case of, for example, a fire on site or a serious injury.
It also sets parameters for when the DEP should be notified if any chemicals spill on the ground.
If someone calls to threaten the plant with a bomb or some sort of chemical attack, “treat the caller with courtesy and respect,” the plan says. “Attempt to obtain as much information as possible.”
Checklists in the draft plan help employees document emergencies in the moment methodically and efficiently.
Several members of Citizens for a Healthy Jessup, a group fighting to stop the project, reviewed the document and called it “general and non-specific.”
“If nothing else, we’d like to see our borough hire an uninterested third party to formulate an independent plan rather than relying on the work of HDR Engineering (Invenergy’s engineering contractor), a company that when researched, seems to have a history of serving big corporations and their needs,” the citizens group said in a prepared statement.
Citizens also said the plan leaves unanswered questions on ample roadways out of the plant in case of an emergency and a warning system for townspeople.
Ms. Ryan said the plan is only a draft document and is meant to show what kinds of response plans are used elsewhere.
“After detailed design has been further advanced, we will retain the services of a qualified specialist who will assist in a final plan. In addition, we will engage the input of local first responders,” she said.