How We Prepare
We strive to prevent incidents before they occur. That goal drives our actions and decisions every moment and every day. We also prepare so that if an incident does occur, we are ready to respond quickly, safely and effectively, mobilizing expert and well-equipped crews and collaborating with first response agencies.
Wisconsin exercise tests incident response
At Enbridge, honing incident preparedness and response capability entails continuous practice and refinement. In addition to prevention, monitoring, inspection and maintenance activities, the best way to ensure sharp operational response is through staging simulated incidents and testing our response teams and processes in a complex, fast-moving environment.
In September, Enbridge staged a large-scale crude oil pipeline emergency response exercise in Wisconsin, providing a realistic, real-world scenario to test, review and improve our emergency incident preparedness and response.
“These exercises go a long way to building confidence in the community,” says Brad Shamla, Enbridge’s Vice-President of U.S. Operations. “Safety is a top priority at Enbridge and as a responsible pipeline operator, prevention is number one; but we take the time to bring in resources and coordinate our efforts so that in the event something did happen, we’re fully prepared to respond.”
During the exercise, held near Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, participants were tasked with rapid deployment and response to a hypothetical scenario involving a pipeline rupture and heavy crude oil spill. Further complicating matters, the team that designed the scenario had a portion of the hypothetical oil spill flowing into the Wisconsin River.
“These exercises are important to ensure our response plans are tested and to build relationships with local responders, stakeholders and agencies,” says Stephen Lloyd, Manager of Emergency Management. “Our emergency response exercises are intense activities and this one in Wisconsin was no exception.”
After months of planning and a brainstorming workshop held on Sept. 18, the Wisconsin exercise began in earnest on the morning of Sept. 19.
This test and assessment of Enbridge’s response capability involved 112 Enbridge employees and 121 outside observers and participants, all working under unified command to ensure effective coordination and collaboration.
The simulation involved quick mobilization to site, spill containment and recovery. The Midwest region’s field response team demonstrated how it would deploy boom at two control points to contain the hypothetical release.
A fully staffed incident management team operated out of a command post set up in Wisconsin Rapids. These exercises also factor in concerns unique to specific operating areas where they are held, in this case the presence of nearby cranberry crops and dairy farms.
“People were fully immersed in the exercise, doing all the activities that would be part of a real emergency, including planning response activities, managing media and public, and deploying equipment,” says Stephen.
“We were able to meet our exercise objectives of deploying equipment and establishing a fully staffed command post to develop action plans.”
Observing and participating agencies included (among others): The Environmental Protection Agency; Department of Natural Resources; Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration; Wisconsin Emergency Management; and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Bringing first responders to the table
Agility, teamwork and readiness are the hallmarks of a robust emergency preparedness and response plan.
To bolster our ability to mobilize a quick response, Enbridge regularly collaborates with first responders and safety advocates along its pipeline network to help ensure the safety of the public, our personnel and the environment.
Early in 2019, Enbridge held an emergency response tabletop exercise in Hamilton, Ontario, alongside regional fire, police, emergency management and government agencies.
The exercise focused on the vital communication, synergy and interconnected roles necessary for first responders, industry and government in the event of a pipeline emergency.
Sessions such as these augment Enbridge’s proactive prevention program which saw the company invest more than C$1.7 billion last year on maintaining the health and overall fitness of our pipeline system, in parallel with staging hundreds of emergency response drills across North America.
While our ultimate goal is to prevent all spills and releases, we also have to be ready if one occurs, so we’re also committed, as a responsible pipeline operator, to maintaining the ability to mount a comprehensive incident response at any point along our pipeline network.
In 2019, Enbridge held drills, simulation exercises and equipment deployment events in all its operating regions to test and sharpen emergency preparedness.
During the Hamilton event, representatives from government agencies and Hamilton’s police and fire departments joined Enbridge personnel in a drill scenario involving an unsafe digging by a third party – a common cause of damage to underground utilities* – that caused a crude oil release.
“The goal of our tabletop exercises, like the one we held in Hamilton, is largely to break down the so-called ‘silos’ between police, fire, EMS, emergency management, industry and local government—and determine how we can best work together in the unlikely event of a pipeline incident,” says Silvio da Silva, Enbridge’s emergency response coordinator in Ontario and Quebec.
*Be sure to read Your role in safe energy delivery in the How We Respond section of this Safety Report to the Community.
By the numbers
Enbridge has trained thousands of its employees to respond safety and effectively in the event of an incident, including more than 2,700 members of our team who have been provided with in-depth, hands-on training in the Incident Command System.
In 2019, Enbridge staged 225 drills, exercises and equipment deployments to hone our emergency preparedness skills and capability. Thousands of personnel participated and we worked closely with local, regional and federal first response agencies so that we’re ready to join forces and collaborate effectively when necessary.