Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Marathon Petroleum Corporation and EPA on environmental safeguards


Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) works hard to prevent incidents throughout its operations and to maintain a strong readiness to respond effectively if an emergency event occurs. This dedication to response readiness is reflected in its ongoing training, which includes 20 multi-agency, worst-case oil spill exercises in 2022 alone, as well as numerous smaller drills and tabletop exercises mandated by regulators.

MPC demonstrated its capabilities for the EPA in the fall during one of the year's largest drills, a regional response exercise in which MPC teams successfully collaborated with 125 participants from 14 federal, state, and local agencies, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Three Affiliated Tribes, and BNSF Railway.

EPA Region 8, which includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado, organized the two-day drill at MPC's Mandan, North Dakota, refinery. The planning process with MPC began in the spring to allow for adequate time to address the event's size and scope. It was a full-scale exercise, which meant it simulated an actual emergency, complete with containment and recovery equipment, an incident command post, and real-time updates that prompted decisions and actions to help validate preparedness.

“By working together with our response partners, we can reduce impacts of both natural and humanmade disasters on people, the economy, and the environment” said Betsy Smidinger, Director of U.S. EPA Region 8’s Superfund and Emergency Management Division.

“Partnering with Marathon, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the state of North Dakota and city and county emergency management entities in the full-scale exercise allowed us to work through, and evaluate the effectiveness of, our response protocols in a setting that simulates the real-world challenges we could face in a true emergency.”

Teamwork is key
Drill participants acted as if they were responding to an oil spill at the refinery's tank farm, which resulted in oil reaching the nearby Missouri River. The refinery fire department's emergency response team deployed booms on the river on the first day of the drill to demonstrate how spill containment would look.

“Showcasing the Mandan team’s ability for all the agencies was priceless,” said MPC Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Servil Hoff. “This is an aspect that most people don’t ever see, including the process of boom deployment with recovery and all the equipment and resources that are required.”

The second day was spent running an incident command post and putting together a unified command team to manage the response. Chris Staats, General Manager of the Refinery, was the incident commander. Other refinery employees, MPC employees from across the company, and agency members filled roles as well. On-scene coordinators from the federal, state, local, and tribal governments were part of the unified command team.

“EPA wanted to make sure Standing Rock was involved to show them the ability of the refinery to respond and to ensure them that we are all united if an incident were to happen,” said Hoff .

The emphasis on cooperation, according to Mandan Refinery Fire Chief Jamie Reinholt, was a major factor in the drill's overall success. He mentioned the positive feedback he received from third-party evaluators who were on-site throughout the exercise.

“All observers had great comments from both days. The planning teams worked great together, groups were engaged and well-prepared, and it showed,” said Reinholt.

“I think everyone that participated took something back to their locations.”