• James Armstrong

Enbridge holds emergency training session in Rigaud


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Low water levels in the Ottawa River affected Enbridge routine emergency training exercises on July 17.

Two boats, crew members, and a containment boom were part of the scene at the Point Séguin boat launch on the Ottawa River in Rigaud on Tuesday, July 17 to enact an oil spill simulation.

“This was a routine emergency training exercise,” said Senior Communications Engagement Strategist Herb Shields the following day. “Emergency response equipment, including a boom was deployed in a session that began at 10 a.m. and ended at 2 p.m.,” he added.

According to Shields, the activity included five Enbridge employees, two employees from Eastern Canada Response Corporation (ECRC) and an observer from the Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement, Faune et Parcs (MDDEFP).

“These exercises are held periodically and more are planned for the late summer and early fall,” said Shields.

Dealing with low water levels

The Town of Rigaud had advised residents in the affected areas that the training session was taking place. However, the original plan was to start the exercise from the boat launch on the Rigaud River at the corner of Bas de la Rivière Road and Grand Quai Road. The plan was revised due to low water levels in the river and relocated to the Point Séguin boat launch. Shields noted it was important to carry out training sessions in a variety of water conditions to gain experience in dealing with a highly variable environment.

Emergency response plan

Enbridge Pipelines Inc. is the owner and operator of Pipeline 9B that crosses the Ottawa River between Rigaud and Pointe-Fortune. On this occasion, the training team and equipment arrived in Rigaud from Montreal. When asked if there was a local response team and equipment available in the area in the event of an actual pipeline emergency, Shields said emergency response strategies were in place. He added that the response to an emergency situation is under the purview of ECRC, a Response Organization certified by Transport Canada Marine Safety.

According to their website, ECRC is responsible for providing coverage in all navigable waters east of the Rocky Mountains and must submit for review a response plan every three years. In Quebec, the organization maintains staffed response centres at Verchères near Montreal, Québec City and Sept-Isles. ECRC is a private management company owned by several of the major Canadian oil companies.

History

As previously reported in The Journal, Enbridge conducted similar simulation exercises in the Town of Sainte-Justine-de-Newton (SJN) December 2, 2017. At the time, Sainte-Justine de Newton and Sainte-Marthe Fire Department Director Patrice Lavergne said it was the first operation of that nature in Quebec and it had gone very well.

MRC-VS Communications Director Simon Richard said that though the company had deemed the simulation a success, Enbridge has long declined to provide specific safety response information sought by the MRC.

Shortly after the SJN simulation, the road leading to the pipeline’s manual shut-off valve was compromised by a landslide meaning emergency response teams dispatched from Montreal would have to drive to Ontario before accessing the site via back roads. Enbridge maintains they’re aware of the proper routes and the road closure would have no impact on any necessary safety response.

Local emergency response training

Although he didn’t reveal any details of the emergency strategy for the area, Shields said that local municipal fire and public security departments are kept up to date on the emergency response plans. “There are tabletop training sessions and full-scale exercises for them,” he said.

“Yesterday’s exercise was a success,” said Shields stating the containment boom was deployed and that they were able to launch the boats and adapt to the water conditions.

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