PHOTOS: Trans Mountain hosts mock oil spill response practice in Kamloops

About 30 people partook in the Inks Lake exercise, which involved using what is essentially a chain saw on skis to cut into the ice. The machine is used to ensure the cutting of straight lines through the ice for long distances. (Michael Potestio/KTW)
In the simulation on Inks Lake in Kamloops, B.C., the pipeline was severed and leaked for 24 hours. Crews were tasked with cleaning up the large spill by cutting out blocks of lake ice in order to collect the crude. (Trans Mountain photo)
Kelly Malinoski, Trans Mountain’s director of emergency management, shows on a map where the simulated spill was located. (Michael Potestio/KTW)
There were more than 220 participants and observers from 25 different agencies practising the planning process out of the faux incident command centre on Wednesday, including City of Kamloops, Thompson-Nicola Regional District, B.C.’s Ministry of Environment, Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc and the Canada Energy Regulator (CER), formerly known as the National Energy Board. (Michael Potestio/KTW)

–– Kamloops This Week

How do you handle a full-bore oil spill in the dead of winter?

For Trans Mountain, it’s all about practice.

The company that will twin its pipeline between Alberta and Burnaby conducted a full-scale emergency response simulation in Kamloops on Wednesday.

More than 200 people from the various organizations that would be involved in such an incident practised their spill-planning processes at the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Centre, while Trans Mountain workers familiarized themselves with clean-up equipment in the field, at a simulated spill at Inks Lake, just south of the city.

Setting the scene for the simulated response, an excavator accidentally struck the pipeline, with diluted bitumen flowing over land and into a creek connecting to Jacko Lake in mid-February. Due to safety concerns, Inks Lake was used instead of the actual Jacko Lake.

ALSO READ: Trans Mountain pipeline expansion cost jumps 70% to $12.6 billion

In the simulation, the line was severed and leaked for 24 hours. Crews were tasked with cleaning up the large spill by cutting out blocks of lake ice in order to collect the crude.

Doing this results in the oil — which would be flowing between the water and crust of ice — to pop up through the hole in the ice, enabling workers to collect it using skimmers, Kelly Malinoski, Trans Mountain’s director of emergency management told KTW.

She said the most important aspect of responding to an oil spill is the environmental impacts.

About 30 people partook in the Inks Lake exercise, which involved using what is essentially a chain saw on skis to cut into the ice. Malinoski said the machine is used to ensure the cutting of straight lines through the ice for long distances.

About 30 emergency-response exercises are conducted every year along the entire pipeline route to ensure Trans Mountain workers and partner agencies are familiar with what to do should the real life situation ever occur.

Trans Mountain spokesperson Ali Hounsell said the exercises involve various circumstances and scales to be prepared for anything, and the winter scenario is something done every couple of years in a few different locations. Exercises of Wednesday’s scope are conducted about twice a year — one each in the summer and winter to practise spill response under those specific conditions.

An important component of the simulation is conducting them with the various agencies that would be involved, Hounsell said.

There were more than 220 participants and observers from 25 different agencies practising the planning process out of the faux incident command centre on Wednesday, including City of Kamloops, Thompson-Nicola Regional District, B.C.’s Ministry of Environment, Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc and the Canada Energy Regulator (CER), formerly known as the National Energy Board.

Kent Lien, technical leader of emergency management for the CER, said he couldn’t stress the importance of Wednesday’s exercise enough.

“The value of meeting the other potential responsible players in event of emergency, you gain that personal contact with them and you’re able to discuss the roles and responsibilities, that’s incredibly valuable,” Lien said, noting the ability to practise the procedures enables improvement in emergency responses.

Lien said the CER wears two hats during the simulation — as participants operating at the incident command centre and as evaluators of the exercise.

“We’re always looking for continual improvement from the companies that we regulate,” he said, adding the CER will prepare a report on the emergency-response exercise.

The publicly available report will note any deficiencies or areas of improvement, which the CER will follow up on with the company.

Work on twinning the 28 kilometres of the Trans Mountain pipeline that travels through Kamloops will begin this spring.

Michael Potestio, Kamloops This Week

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Trans Mountain pipeline

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Hydro opens applications for COVID-19 Relief Fund to residential customers

Small business owners will be able to apply to the fund next week.

Northern B.C. charity rolling out COVID-19 relief funds soon

United Way of Northern BC say funding requests are outweighing the amount of donations received.

UPDATE: First presumptive case of COVID-19 in Prince Rupert

Doctor says it was a visitor, Northern Health won’t confirm

Northwest mines lengthen crew rotations in response to COVID-19

Northern Health confident precautions sufficient enough to keep work camps open

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Most Read