CHS Yellowstone exercise

Sunday, August 26, 2018
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Chris Deverell photo

Response crews with Cenex Harvest States prepare to take to the Yellowstone River during a training exercise on Aug. 24.

At least once a year, according to CHS Environmental Manager Joey Phillips, CHS runs a response training program on the Yellowstone to ensure preparedness in the event of an oil spill or release into the river. With a petroleum terminal in Glendive and a Cenex pipeline traversing from Laurel to Glendive, it is important for the company to have responders on hand with the technical expertise and understanding of how to prevent a release from becoming a major environmental issue, Phillips said. “Today we’re just getting our equipment out, getting practice, and getting our containment boom out,” Phillips said. “It’s just an annual training to practice for response procedures and to make sure we’re proficient in using that stuff.”While CHS was leading the way on the training operation, Dawson County Emergency Services Coordinator Mary Jo Gehnert, along with District Sanitarian Kevin Pena, was on hand to take part in the exercise, providing some equipment that the county has on hand, and to take notes on how to best address an emergency situation such as an oil spill. “

They always invite, for about five or six years now, and I come down to watch and listen and learn, you always learn something new,” Gehnert said.

In the event that there was a spill on the river that was not tied to CHS, Gehnert said that she would be the chief person to begin mobilizing a response in the county, but that she also felt that CHS would be committed enough to provide assistance, even in cases outside of their involvement.