CHS pipeline safety efforts ranked first in the nation

Two women practicing putting out a fire

Michelle Slyder, manager of DOT compliance, left, and Tina Beach, public awareness specialist, take part in a safety training with CHS Pipelines and Terminals staff.

Apr 17, 2020

CHS taps into more than 2,000 miles of pipeline throughout the United States to access crude oil for our refineries in McPherson, Kan., and Laurel, Mont., and safely move product to the marketplace.

CHS Pipelines and Terminals staff advocate for pipeline safety to key audiences, such as emergency responders, public officials, excavators and farmers and ranchers. They do this by hosting trainings, taking part in industry groups and by informing about life-saving efforts, such as the Call Before You Dig campaign, which encourages landowners to call 811 before doing any digging on their property to have utility lines marked. 

Leading the Way  

These efforts are getting noticed. Recently, CHS ranked at the top among 18 other pipeline operators in the API Public Awareness Surveys of emergency responders, public officials, excavators, and landowners and residents. “Our ranking speaks to a number of efforts, including the commitment of our staff to the communities we operate in and our deep commitment to landowners, who may also be owners in our company or in a cooperative,” says Michelle Slyder, manager, DOT compliance.  

The public awareness program is managed by Tina Beach, public awareness specialist, who serves in leadership roles on state pipeline associations, state and local emergency response organizations, and national trade associations. “Tina has built great relationships with industry representatives, emergency responders, and operations and utilizes creative approaches for how to get the word out about programs like Call Before You Dig,” says Slyder. One such idea is having CHS employees across the CHS footprint advocate for 811. “Having employees who promote the use of 811 by displaying equipment at the local fair, advertising 811 on employee-owned race cars, or displaying the 811 logo on team jerseys, adds a personal touch to our outreach, and provides a local voice to spread the word for us,” says Slyder.  

Partnering with Industry 

To affect change with groups like emergency responders and excavators, the public awareness group takes part in every state pipeline organization where CHS has pipelines, as well as industry groups. “By serving on these boards, we maximize return on our investments and guide the organizations to continually improve,” says Slyder.  

For emergency responders, training and communication is key. “Our goal is to be proactive and have relationships in place so that CHS can work effectively with emergency responders should an incident arise,” says Slyder. This includes emergency response training and security-based tabletop drills to prepare for scenarios specific to CHS operations. “These trainings give emergency responders a chance to talk about how they would respond and learn about CHS response capabilities.” Slyder says attendees are often attending a training like this for the first time.  

Practices like these not only build relationships but can save lives. “Previously, pipelines were not typically written into Local Emergency Response Committee (LEPC) Plans. Now, we’ve provided emergency responders with pipeline information that becomes a go-to part of that plan, not an afterthought,” says Slyder.  

“Because we are farmer-owned, CHS Pipelines and Terminals is passionate about not just checking the box, but going above and beyond to keep our employees, owners and communities safe,” says Slyder. “We understand the importance of being involved at the state and local levels. It’s what sets us apart.”