By overcoming logistical challenges in innovative Souris River emergency response test, Enbridge is met with positive community response

By David Coll

Ensuring the safety of the critical energy infrastructure we rely on to fuel our economy is a job that must be done — no matter the circumstances.

Such was the case when Enbridge held an emergency response training exercise along the Souris River in the town of Wawanesa, Man., in May.

Activity was focused along the river within the town. A command post and staging area were set up and a flat-bottomed boat deployed an oil containment boom over a span of some 500 feet across the shallow river. No actual crude oil products were used in the exercise scenario.

“The exercise was designed to test Enbridge’s ability to respond to an oil spill near our mainline pipeline system,” explains Stephen Lloyd, manager, emergency management with Enbridge. “In addition to meeting a regulatory requirement of our Line 3 Replacement Program, this supports our ongoing effort to continuously practice and improve our emergency response capability on all waterways in proximity to pipeline operations and populated regions.”

“The exercise was designed to test Enbridge’s ability to respond to an oil spill near our mainline pipeline system.”

Preparing for a potential emergency is a routine part of pipeline operations, but the Manitoba exercise was anything but routine. For example, the tightening of provincial COVID-19 guidelines on outdoor gatherings (from 10 to five persons) and restrictions on out-of-province visitors required Enbridge to revise and adapt its plans for the exercise.

“Only those essential to running the exercise in the field, 30 people, were able to be onsite,” explains Lloyd. “We divided these individuals into pods to comply with the current maximum limit on outdoor gatherings in Manitoba. The pods communicated by radio — at any given time, only one group was on the river, in the staging area or Incident Command Centre.”

Another 160 people (Enbridge employees and observers) participated virtually via their home or office computers, including the Province of Manitoba, Natural Resources Canada and the Canada Energy Regulator.

“Overall, it was a positive and highly collaborative exercise,” says Steve Loney, senior advisor, community and Indigenous engagement with Enbridge. “We had tremendous support from the [rural municipality] of Oakland-Wawanesa and the town, including the fire department and the school next door to the exercise.

“People were warm and welcoming and waved at us when we were driving by in our company vehicles.”

Published in PIPELINE OBSERVER Summer 2021


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