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.
Practice, practice, practice
Last year, Enbridge staged more than 365 drills, exercises and equipment deployments to hone our emergency preparedness skills and capability. Thousands of our people 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.
A team approach to emergency preparedness
At Enbridge, we know that emergency preparedness involves more than just our systems and our people. We need to work closely with others in the energy industry, first response agencies, regulators and the general public to be ready to mount a safe and effective response when an incident occurs.
In short, Enbridge understands that safety is a team sport.
Nowhere is this mindset more evident than in Cushing, OK, a major North American hub for the energy industry, with dozens of crude oil pipelines flowing into and out of the area and nearly 85 million barrels of storage. Enbridge is the largest player in the area, with more than 20 million barrels of crude oil storage.
We’re also a safety leader, helping to found the Safety Alliance of Cushing (SAC) nearly two decades ago – a partnership between Enbridge, other members of the pipeline industry and first responders to collaborate on training, share specialized emergency response equipment and advance best practices to keep everyone safer.
John Henkel, Enbridge’s field safety advisor in Cushing and past chief of the city’s fire department, says the success of the alliance is built on the relationships it has helped to forge between everyone who has a role to play in safety.
“The biggest advantage of the SAC is the fact that people know each other. We can deploy quickly and everybody’s on the same plan,” John says, adding that before the alliance was established, the absence of those relationships made it difficult to mount a coordinated response in an emergency. “When I first started this nobody really knew who anybody was. Everyone was siloed or compartmentalized.”
Now, 20 years on, the alliance is a model for safety collaboration between industry and first-response agencies. “The resources of the alliance are a phone call away and you can pretty much get whatever equipment or assistance you need any day, any time,” says Landon Link, Enbridge’s Senior Safety Advisor in the region.
In addition to millions of dollars invested in specialized emergency response equipment, personnel from participating companies, as well as Cushing police and fire departments, and regional, state and federal agencies meet every month, and hold frequent tabletop exercises and equipment deployments to fine tune emergency response skills.
The alliance also stages a major incident response exercise annually. “We have a yearly drill that all the companies as well as fire and police, local county, state and federal emergency responders participate in,” says Landon.
Chris Pixler, Cushing’s current Fire Chief says the alliance has boosted safety for the community and the critical energy infrastructure that makes Cushing the pipeline crossroads of the world.
“The industry has stepped up to make sure that not only their operations are safe but that our community is safer too,” Chris says, noting that the initiative has bolstered emergency response capacity beyond just safety within the terminals, but throughout the city and surrounding region. “It’s come full circle. Their efforts have helped protect the community, and at the same time the program has been able to greatly increase our capabilities to protect the terminals and the pipeline infrastructure as well. It’s a unique group effort and we’re really proud of it.”
John, who witnessed the birth of the alliance during his time as Cushing’s fire chief, notes that Enbridge has been a mainstay of the program right from Day 1. “SAC is as strong as it is today because of Enbridge’s commitment,” he says, noting that Enbridge made the first investment in the industrial fire-fighting equipment that the alliance shares. “I look at Enbridge as a cornerstone in the alliance.”
Readiness plus in the Straits
In late 2016, we held a two-day training event with 35 of our emergency responders and local contractors in Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac to practice deploying specialized equipment for emergency response along Line 5.
This new equipment includes high-speed oil containment and recovery systems, additional skimmers, and ice response skimming systems. In the event of a pipeline incident, the equipment would help us and other oil spill response organizations to recover product quickly in multiple scenarios—rough open waters, ice cover and near shore.
Training for first responders
Emergency Responder Education Program
Since 2012, we have offered the Emergency Responder Education Program (EREP) to first responders to train them on how to safely and effectively respond to pipeline emergencies. EREP is based on Pipeline Emergencies, an industry-leading pipeline emergency response training program developed by the U.S. National Association of State Fire Marshals.
The online training builds off of the Incident Command System, the shared approach used by military and first response agencies across North America to support an effective, scalable and integrated response to incidents of any size. The training presents tactics and practice scenarios to help first responders prepare for potential pipeline incident response situations. Since its introduction, about 2,900 emergency responders, our employees and other interested parties in the U.S. and Canada have completed the training.
Prepare by the numbers
Over the past two years we have invested $7 million in additional emergency response equipment for deployment along our Line 5 pipeline in Michigan, including the Straits of Mackinac.
In total, we have provided emergency response training to nearly 3,300 of our employees and direct contractors. This includes in-depth Incident Command System training.
268 and 240
Because it’s critical for first responders to know how to handle natural gas-related emergencies, our natural gas utilities share training to make sure they’re prepared and ready to respond safely and effectively. In 2017 Enbridge Gas Distribution trained 268 firefighters in the specialized skills they require to protect the public and safely and effectively respond to emergencies involving natural gas through its first responder natural gas awareness program, developed in association with the Canadian Gas Association. Similarly, Union Gas held training sessions with 240 fire departments across Ontario.
Five and 120
In 2017 Enbridge held an intensive five-day training session for 120 employees who are members of the Enbridge Enterprise Emergency Response Team or E3RT. Our Enbridge Enterprise Emergency Response Team (E3RT) is a cross-business-unit group trained to respond to large-scale events in Canada and the U.S. that require more resources than one of our operating regions or business segments alone could provide. The E3RT members are trained in the Incident Command System – a federally-recognized emergency response/ management system, used across North American by military, first-response agencies, and local, provincial/state, and federal governments.