Alberta pipeline exercise includes community

Informing and educating the public is an important component of Enbridge emergency response plans

Ensuring the ongoing safety of the critical energy infrastructure we all rely on to fuel our economy is a job that must be done and—as the saying goes—practice makes perfect.

Such was the objective when Enbridge held an emergency response training exercise to simulate a pipeline incident along the North Saskatchewan River on June 16.

Activity was focused along the river near the Hamlet of Heinsburg, AB, about 233 kilometres east of Edmonton. A command post was established at the Allied Arts and Leisure Centre in the nearby town of Elk Point, while work boats were launched at the river to deploy oil containment boom over a span of some 1,100 feet. 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 Perry Gillam, Regional Emergency Specialist with Enbridge. “In addition to meeting an Alberta Energy Regulator requirement for Enbridge’s Athabasca region, 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.”

Approximately 100 Enbridge and contract personnel were involved in the exercise, equally split between the river and command center.

A key component of any such exercise involves informing and educating community stakeholders, says Jay Brown, an Edmonton-based community and Indigenous engagement strategist with Enbridge.

To this end, Enbridge invited municipal and local Indigenous leaders and the public at large to attend an Emergency Response Day in Elk Point the day prior to the exercise. The afternoon event provided an opportunity to see the specialized equipment used to respond in the event of a pipeline incident, to meet Enbridge personnel involved in response activities and ask questions.

Underscoring Enbridge’s strong working relationships with local first responders in Alberta communities, the Elk Point Fire Department and RCMP also participated in the equipment demonstrations. Hamburgers, hot dogs, soft drinks and water were served and there were prize giveaways awarded throughout the afternoon.

“A lot of people in this area are knowledgeable about oil and gas as they earn a living, directly or indirectly, from the industry,” says Brown. “But we still believe it’s important to share information about our activities, say hello and take the time to build relationships.”

(TOP PHOTO: Boats and containment boom being deployed on the North Saskatchewan River during a June 16 emergency response drill near Heinsburg, AB.)