Brian Chastain is the President of Dynamix Engineering and Services Group, which supports businesses in the gas storage, utility services, and energy industries with project management solutions. Dynamix has been helping clients for over 45 years with site maintenance, replacement, and repurposing assets like wellheads and casing production tubing to remain compliant with industry standards. The company’s mission is to help others operate at their peak efficiency while minimizing their environmental impact.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Brian Chastain shares a story of how a company got a $53 million fine and why
- Examples of how poor maintenance of energy infrastructures affects the general public
- Brian explains the importance of educating the public about the energy infrastructures and other ways to avoid damages
- How improper maintenance impacts the environment
- Brian shares tips on how to stay proactive and avoid major catastrophes as an energy industry
In this episode…
As an energy firm, you don’t want to make the news. So how can you stay proactive, steer clear of huge fines, and avoid major catastrophes?
The President of Dynamix Engineering and Services Group, Brian Chastain, says that energy companies need to think about the safety of the environment and the community — in terms of taking care of their infrastructures. And how do they do that? This can be done by properly maintaining their infrastructures, educating the public about the energy infrastructures, and more.
In this episode of the Project Dynamix Podcast, Brian Chastain, the President of Dynamix Engineering and Services Group, sits down with Dr. Jeremy Weisz, the Co-founder of Rise25, to discuss why you need to properly maintain your energy infrastructures. Brian shares a story of how a company got a $53 million fine, examples of how poor maintenance affects the general public and the environment, and tips on how to stay proactive and avoid major catastrophes in the energy industry.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Dynamix ESG
- Brian Chastain on LinkedIn
- Dynamix ESG email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dynamix ESG phone number: 724-716-4111
- Dr. Jeremy Weisz on LinkedIn
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Dynamix.
Dynamix is an engineering and services group on a mission to help companies achieve peak operational efficiencies with the smallest environmental footprint.
At Dynamix, we make sure the companies we work with do NOT make the news. Nobody wants their name in articles due to mishaps, but sadly, it happens all too often.
We have a team of experts that have been in the field for over 45 years. We take care of our clients and get them back up and running as quickly as possible by providing expert turnkey consulting services for their security needs.
Basically, if you are in the gas storage, utility services, or energy industry, we are your turnkey project management operation.
We fix, update, and repurpose assets like wellheads, casing, production tubing, site repair, and replacement. We bring clients above the industry standards and help them avoid regulatory penalties.
This is the Project Dynamix Podcast hosted by Brian Chastain, where he features top leaders in the energy markets to talk about innovation and impact.
Brian Chastain 0:17
Hi, Brian Chastain here host of Project Dynamix Podcast where I feature top leaders in the energy markets to talk about innovation and impact. I have Dr. Jeremy Weisz here at Rise25, who has done thousands of interviews with successful entrepreneurs and CEOs. We have flipped the script, he will be interviewing me.
Jeremy Weisz 0:36
Brian, I’m excited. And especially what are we talking about, you’ve had some crazy stories in this industry, and some of the things that you’ve seen third hand, second hand and firsthand as well. And some of the horror stories that have happened. And so we’re going to run through those. But before we do, this episode is brought to you by Dynamix and at Dynamix, you make sure companies you work with do not make the news. That’s important, because I know you were telling me about an article where a company got a $53 million, fine. And basically, if you’re in the gas storage, utility services, energy industry, you are a turnkey project management operation. And you fix update, repurpose assets like wellheads, casing, production tubing site repair and replace. And you bring clients not just to the industry standards, but above the industry standards. And basically your engineering and services group are on a mission to help companies achieve peak operational efficiencies with a smallest environmental footprint. So you have a team of experts, you have been in the field for over 45 years. And I know people can email you at email@example.com, or give you all a call at 724-716-4111. So I want to start with that one, the $53 million fine, what happened?
Brian Chastain 2:08
The short and dirty of it is that they had an equipment failure due to years of poor maintenance or no maintenance, in that case. There was valves and without going into try to dodge some of those details. But really what it boiled down to is their maintenance program was insufficient. They had multiple failures. And really, that’s what all of these led up to that it wasn’t just one thing broke. And then there was a problem. It started all the way back as far as sometimes it was, wasn’t being properly regulated within the company. And sometimes it was the actual federal administration played a part where they just didn’t have their rules set, drench it enough to where the safety bar was maybe as high as what it could have been. So then that led to another step. In this case, the failure started from the lack of proper maintenance, because it was not there. The employees of that company, were not doing regular inspections. And the inspections that were getting done, they didn’t come up to snuff, they really just, I don’t want to say pencil whipping it. But I mean, it was closed. When you have incidents of you don’t have someone leading that charge of saying, hey, safety first, every single day. And really, that’s what we’re after, when we say don’t make the news, we just want to drive safety for the environment and safety for the community in which your company and the public reside. So with that situation, it wasn’t being properly maintained, the inspections weren’t getting done, a valve sailed, which turned into another failure down the line that ultimately resulted in a small explosion. And after multiple investigations, that’s a lead back in that that specific company was fined about $53 million. Which to a lot of these companies $53 million is well in no way is that a small number, right? And nobody wants to have a $3 million fine. I think the most important piece that came out of that wasn’t the fine at all the monetary damage is one aspect, the public damage that you end up with, that’s the real nightmare because now you’ve broken trust bridge between you and the public that you’re supposed to be serving. So as we go and we try to build and expand infrastructures, and people want to promote the safety of pipeline infrastructure, what ends up happening is examples like this is incomes just train to the top of the plate. that’s all anybody thinks about. It’s like oh, well what about that one explosion that you dropped the ball, nothing happened. That’s the real blowback in this in that incident, there was no casualties, it was infrastructure, and there was there was external damage. But luckily, in that specific incident, no one was actually, there was no fatalities or anything. And that’s just lucky. I mean, the wrong time, wrong place, that incident could have been a lot worse, really. And you just started by not properly inspecting the equipment, and it ultimately led to equipment not being properly restricted to the public. In fact, that’s where a lot of these incidents boil back to is improper access control from personnel that does not need to be near there.
Jeremy Weisz 5:49
Now we’ll talk about some of those scenarios. That’s actually the scarier part for me when you tell the story is, it wasn’t anything crazy, it was a trickle effect of small things that lead to larger, larger things. And, and those small things don’t seem that significant at the time. So it’s a go, no big deal. But that can lead to huge problems. You talked about the public for a second, there’s a couple of scenarios where this has affected people or could, there was an incident, I think we’ve campers.
Brian Chastain 6:25
Yeah, so there was an incident, this would have been probably entered as long as maybe up to 20 years ago, plus or minus, maybe closer to 15. It’s been a while, but it’s Southern California, they had just a group of young adults, teenagers that went camping, except they went camping next to a surface valve in Southern California that did result in an explosion, and it did result in some well, it didn’t go over well for the public or the general safety of any. And that think that that was one of the actual the pivot moments in our industry, pushing really towards the regulatory infrastructure that’s being built around these is, at no point should the public be able to just go strike up a campfire near a surface bow No, of course, most people especially, I think this is almost kind of a complacency thing in some instances where we assume and by we I mean, the broader industry right now, we sometimes people get caught assuming that the general public will just recognize and know that they should not be near something, right? Everybody makes attempts, it is properly marked, and it’s properly to be painted different colors. There’s signs it says Warning, gas line gas valve, or underground, there’s an abundance of things. The old adage of where there’s a will there’s a way, kind of a deal. Sometimes that leads into a situation like this. Well, one of the things that happens when lines come through, is they clear off radical. So it becomes a nice open clearing through whatever portion of the country that those lines may be going through, which is of course pretty appealing, if you’re looking for a nice level clean spot to go set up for the night. In that case in that story. And again, it was really just a I don’t recall exactly how they completely boiled down. But I know that it was avoidable. And I know that that really started sparking a lot of the regulation and enforcement of proper inspections and proper access to these valves.
Jeremy Weisz 6:52
Is that the issue? Brian is the proper signage, and everything was not there. It was a case where they jumped the fence and they decided to have a bonfire camp, right.
Brian Chastain 9:04
It isn’t even like we everyone, or most everyone’s going to know that a fence doesn’t keep people. Right. So I feel that it’s a lack of proper education, right? A lot of people, they, it’s no different than if you put up a no press, no trespassing sign and a nice fence around your personal property. Well, we all know that that’s not going to keep people out it will to an extent. But if somebody really just wants to go and they really like where you’re at. That’s a really nice piece of land you’ve got to show we’d like to camp there for the night and it’s out here in the wilderness. So I’m going to do what I want to do. We can’t stop that. Now, because our industry is in some light viewed as more taboo, right? Nobody it’s the dirty energy industry. Well, that’s one of our goals. That’s one of the things that I hope to accomplish with this podcast and with building this company, we’re trying to fix some of the sins of the past and the mistakes that were made. Because it’s a learning process. As the industry has evolved, we have learned safer and better ways to interact with the public and safer and more economical and environmentally friendly ways to interact with our general surroundings that everyone wants to protect, right? I don’t want to be 90 years old, one day talking to my great-grandkids, and know that I could have stopped something by just putting my best foot forward every single day in examining the possibilities. I think that a lot of times interacting with the public in which you are going to crossover with a pipeline, or well or anytime with energy or really even outside of the industry, this could be windmills on the renewable side, right? You have to properly educate the community that you’re going to interact with so that parents can help teach their children the importance of whatever infrastructure may be there, and how to appropriately either go near it or don’t go near it. We can’t hear we don’t can’t hear. I really think that’s what it boils down to. I don’t think a sign or placards could have stopped really, ultimately, that signs and placards and proper labeling go a long way. Because generally speaking, it helps, right, it does keep the vast majority of people out. But to just blanket statement. If there was a fence there, it wouldn’t have happened. I would argue that if there was a fence there, and someone didn’t know the dangers of starting to fire next to a surface valve.
Jeremy Weisz 11:47
Then you mentioned there’s a couple of people, campers have been close to these sites. Also other people doing interesting things, what are some of the things that you’ve seen?
Brian Chastain 12:00
So I mean, ironically, right, when the shift away from me saying that offense witness stuff, anything? Well, there’s a couple of cases where proper signage and fencing would stop some things, right. I had a gentleman, one of the previous client, they were telling us we came out to go do some site access, and some security updates for one of their locations not too long ago. And the purpose for coming out there to do it is because of where the wellheads were located. And because of where the lines were, it was off in the woods, which was also conveniently located too. But some of the locals were able to gain access. And they came out there with their dirt bikes and their quads, and pretty much set up a ramp over the top of the Selma. And they were using as an obstacle course jumping wellheads with dirt bikes. Now that is very much a case. I mean, don’t get me wrong, again, we’ll end way right, as I could have showed up with bolt cutters, but most children and teenagers and young adults, they’re not typically riding around on their dirt bikes with bolt cutters to go jump fences. So I definitely think that in that instance, we were able to put up jersey barriers, proper signage, and get better sight access, taking control for that specific area to eliminate that risk. Because that’s, again, you want to talk about the potential of a total catastrophe. You’ve now got a combustion engine, people jumping your equipment, that’s probably I think it’s both the fence totally would have stopped and has stopped. We have checked up. It did stop the incidents, but I think potentially properly educating the community at the same time would have gone a long way as well because people don’t generally want to put their lives in danger.
Jeremy Weisz 13:58
And in Brian, talking about yes, it could have human catastrophes but also environmental and there was a case that affected environmental, I think there was a large body of water river.
Brian Chastain 14:13
Yeah. So there was again, that one’s gonna go back to improper maintenance and inspections. There were there was a rupture below a river not too long back and it’s been years but in the big scheme, right. It’s not too long ago where there was a pipeline that ruptured underneath a river, and honestly, pretty important one, right? So all rivers are important in my mind. Those incidents are really one of the things that I feel are easier to control, because fish aren’t going to be jumping your pipeline with dirt bikes, right. So properly maintaining your infrastructure when you’re crossing or going underneath bodies of water or through affected areas really all again, go back to the public view. If you want your company to view you and your proposed plan your proposed infrastructure, your proposed safer means of transportation, then you need to be very mindful. I used to think when I was much younger that it was a little bit over avoided in some cases where they would reroute complete pipelines and move plans and all of these other things. But really, the older I get, and the longer I spend within this industry, the more I think, okay, well, we very much could and should evaluate the potential impact and do whatever it takes to limit those impacts towards the environment. A pipeline rupturing underneath the river, just due to kind of that same trickle effect where one piece led to another piece that led to an over-pressuring of a line, those things we are as an industry, we’re getting a lot better. At Dynamix, what we’re trying to do is promote the proactive approach, right, there are so many companies, I mean, we work for one right now that they are yours in the future, as far as being proactive. So no way is this a slam to the industry, this is learning lessons, these are experiences that could have been avoided. And now us at Dynamix, we are trying to further that proactivity with our clients, we want to go out and do site evaluations, and we want to go help our clients not make the news. And honestly, whether or not you make the news or not, I want to help our clients help our communities be better stewards of the land that we are occupying while we are there. There have been multiple incidents we had, there was another one, again, very public incident that resulted in another explosion, it was outdated, and under-maintained equipment. It resulted in just 10s of millions, over $100 million fines. And there was casualties and injuries. And it was extremely public. And it was extremely bad for the families involved and for the company. It was arguably almost unrecoverable, and at the end of the day, someone’s kid didn’t go home to their parents, right? And whether or not there’s a catastrophe or not, those are things that I want to consider when our employees go out. Are you okay, allowing your children to go play in that neighborhood? Right? Would you feel safe if you were a farmer planning all of your agriculture, your harvest? I mean, are you going to be okay? Right? Can you sustain? Because people don’t put wellheads in parking lots, most of the time, there’s a few, most of the time these things are out in agriculture and in the wilderness, in the woods, in the hills, in the mountains, out of sight out of mind, then there’s always an impact somewhere. So that’s what we’re really trying to avoid with these nightmares. This would be the ultimate of failure and process.
Jeremy Weisz 18:24
Brian, kind of what you just said is how do we avoid these things? What does proactivity look like?
Brian Chastain 18:34
Proactivity looks like knowing what you have. We have encountered some clients in our that we interact with, and honestly potential clients and people that we just interact with, right, so let’s just not even clients as a whole the other companies that we interact with within this industry proactivity looks like the forward enough thought to say we know that we have these assets within our company. We know that this is not a set it and forget it industry that we live in. We know that the industry and the regulations in which we operate are constantly evolving, changing, and in most cases it is generally speaking for the better. Proactivity looks like picking up the phone, but then I could call it Dynamix or any other engineering services firm out there. There are plenty of other companies that will do kind of evaluation services for you. That’s proactivity what we try to do is if you call us for one job, and we’re on your location, our employees are trained from day one, if you see something you say something Well, that’s not just see something, say something within our company. It sees something say something to our clients. This isn’t about upselling the client This is we noticed it. We have an obligation within our company to see something and say something. And if at all possible, we try to fix it as soon as possible. We document it, we take pictures, A to Z, we’re not just a not our job kind of employee base here. Everyone likes to go and make sure that if we see something we inform our internals and our clients or potential clients because we will come to evaluations whether or not we work for you permanently,
Jeremy Weisz 20:28
Brian, it’s always fascinating to hear what is happening out there and what the dangers are that, again, like you said, it’s kind of out of sight out of mind. And these areas aren’t always in frequented places. So thanks for everything you do. I want to just point people to more episodes of the podcast and people can check out and learn more at dynamixesg.com. And thanks for having me.
Brian Chastain 21:02
Absolutely. Thank you.
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