Rewarding quick response

Magellan contributes $5,000 to each fire department involved in containing diesel spill

Photo by Deb Gau Hanley Falls Fire Chief Paul Neisius, Cottonwood Fire Chief Dale Louwagie, Jason Huso of Magellan Midstream Partners, and Marshall Fire Chief Quentin Brunsvold met at the Marshall fire hall on Tuesday morning, as Huso recognized area firefighters for their role in containing a diesel pipeline leak in Lyon County in April. Huso also presented $5,000 donations to each of the fire departments.

MARSHALL — Every year, Marshall firefighters practice using equipment designed to contain hazardous liquids in water. But when they got the call about a release of diesel fuel in a county drainage ditch, Marshall Fire Chief Quentin Brunsvold said the conditions couldn’t have been more different from the training exercises. It was dark, and responders needed to get a boom into water that was both deep and flowing fast.

“It was challenging,” Brunsvold said. However, in spite of the challenge, firefighters from Marshall, Cottonwood and Hanley Falls all stepped up to help contain the fuel.

“The response from local emergency responders had a significant role in mitigating the impact” of the diesel spill, said Jason Huso, manager of pipeline operations for Magellan Midstream Partners. Huso was in Marshall on Tuesday to thank the three fire departments for their quick action after a Magellan Midstream pipeline was damaged in April. Huso also presented a $5,000 contribution to each fire department.

“It’s a way to say thanks,” Huso said.

“The whole donation was a very welcome surprise,” said Hanley Falls Fire Chief Paul Neisius.

Brunsvold said the donation to the Marshall Fire Department will go toward additional equipment.

The Marshall, Cottonwood and Hanley Falls Fire Departments were “critical” in responding to the pipeline break, Huso said.

“Safety is a top priority for Magellan,” Huso said, and coordinating with local residents and emergency responders is a key part of ensuring safety. “They’re the closest responders to some of these incidents.”

On the night of April 24, Magellan reported a loss of pressure in a petroleum products pipeline running through Lyon County. Responders including area firefighters found diesel fuel leaking from a hole in the pipeline in Lucas Township. Although the fuel release was stopped, Magellan spokespeople estimated around 8,400 gallons of diesel got into Yellow Medicine/Lyon Judicial Ditch 24. The ditch flows into the Yellow Medicine River near Hanley Falls.

The pipeline break was originally thought to be closer to Marshall, so the Marshall Fire Department got the call first that night, Brunsvold said. Then, Brunsvold called Cottonwood Fire Chief Dale Louwagie. Cottonwood firefighters had already gathered at their fire hall for a training exercise before they were paged to the pipeline break, Louwagie said.

Firefighters located the diesel leak, and worked to put a boom in place on JD 24. As the night went on, the Hanley Falls Fire Department provided more manpower, lights and ropes, said Fire Chief Paul Neisius.

After responding to the pipeline incident, Brunsvold said he would like to purchase equipment like another boom. Having more hazmat equipment available could help area firefighters in the future, he said. And the donation from Magellan Midstream would help make that happen.

Criminal charges are being considered in the pipeline break, which Lyon County Attorney Rick Maes said was caused by a gunshot piercing the pipe. Last month, Maes said he was waiting for more information on the extent of damages to the pipeline, as well as word on whether there will be federal involvement in pursuing charges.