When Dennis Dukes of Cornerstone Propane first heard about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he abandoned a business trip and headed back to his office. Conscious of the potential threat of propane in the wrong hands, Dukes hastily drafted a memo to employees, reminding them of emergency-response plans and urging them to double-check the security of storage areas.
"I'm confident that all our managers in the field are prepared and doing what they can to prevent any problems," says Dukes, the director of technical services for the Lebanon, Mo.-based distributor. "I think most employees are aware of what they should do in the event of an emergency. With the uncertainty of things, I think everyone has the question on their minds of what's next?"
While propane companies across the country take steps to secure storage facilities and remind drivers to stay alert, all of those contacted indicate they are satisfied their supplies are safe from would-be terrorists. Still, in light of the attacks, they recognize the need to anticipate what previously was unthinkable, and say they welcome opportunities to make improvements.
Some of those recommendations will be coming from a project initiated by the National Propane Gas Association and funded by a $165,000 grant the Pro-pane Education & Research Council approved Oct. 31.
The plan includes security reminders to be mailed to all members, and an audiovisual presentation for meetings. NPGA also will use a portion of the grant to hire a security firm that specializes in plant and industrial security issues to give recommendations on improving security. NPGA hopes to have a report by Feb. 1.
"We want to be prepared when and if the propane industry receives a call from Congress or the Depart-ment of Energy, and have a security report in our hand to be able to say we recognize the potential problems, we've hired the experts, tightened procedures, and here's the report," explains Dan Myers, NPGA executive vice president. "We want to show that we share the government's concern for securing America."
NPGA also formed a security task force to provide guidelines for bulk plants, transports, pipelines and terminals. Led by Rob Freeman of Freeman Gas in South Carolina, members include Brad Atkinson of Heritage Propane, Paul Bogan of Sea-3 Inc., Tim Ferns of Rumford Energy Group, …