How do pipeline companies prepare for an emergency?

Pipeline companies focus on preventing releases from happening in the first place. CEPA members ensure the integrity of their pipelines by protecting the pipeline against corrosion, doing regular maintenance, surveilling, conducting thorough inspections and monitoring from highly-sophisticated control centres.

In the unlikely event of an emergency, CEPA members are prepared. Every pipeline operator has a thorough and sophisticated emergency management program that enables them to anticipate potential situations, manage risks and respond effectively during an emergency.

Planning for every emergency

Experts in emergency management create emergency response plans for every pipeline.

Managing the situation

Emergency response plans outline exactly what needs to happen to effectively manage an emergency:

  • Stop the leak by shutting down systems quickly and safely
  • Dispatch first responders and clean-up crews
  • Get spill response equipment to the site
  • Contain the released product to minimize spreading
  • Ensure the safety of the public, employees and contractors
  • Protect wildlife, water bodies and vegetation
  • Repair the pipeline
  • Clean up, remediate and restore the site
  • Long-term monitoring of the site to determine if any further action is required
Kinder Morgan emergency deployment exercise

Emergency response exercises cover a variety of emergency situations, including spills in water. Photo courtesy of TransMountain Expansion.

Operators are ready for emergencies with detailed emergency response plans.

Pipeline Emergency responders making emergency plans

During an emergency exercise, command centres are set up to practice enacting proper response procedures.

Pipeline Emergency equipment

CEPA members have trained crews standing by to respond quickly with oil spill containment and recovery equipment (called OSCAR units) to contain the leak.

Practicing Pipeline Emergency response procedures on water

Emergency response is practiced for a variety of potential incidents. Photo courtesy of TransMountain Expansion.

Preparing crews and equipment

Pipeline operators have crews on standby who are prepared to quickly respond in case of an emergency. Emergency equipment is also strategically placed along the pipeline route, so it can be easily accessed. Pipeline operators have access to Oil Spill Containment and Recovery (OSCAR) units, which are pre-packed in semi-trailers for immediate transport.

There are a variety of OSCAR units available to address different types of emergencies.

Combining the resources of all CEPA members

In 2013, all CEPA members committed to a Mutual Emergency Assistance Agreement (MEAA) to strengthen their emergency response. This agreement formalizes and legalizes an already existing practice – members can call on other members anytime for assistance during an emergency, including requests for personnel, equipment, tools or specialized response advice.
Any and all members can be brought in to assist in an emergency.

Training to prepare

Every pipeline operator holds regular training exercises to prepare their team to respond to emergencies. Teams are drilled in different emergency situations to ensure if an incident happens, the response is fast, coordinated and effective. In addition, all CEPA members participated in a joint emergency response exercise to practice enacting MEAA and coordinating a response.

If an incident occurs, pipeline operators are ready.

Preventing a cause of incidents

To reduce the number of incidents caused by unauthorized digging, CEPA members have comprehensive damage prevention programs to increase awareness about working safely around underground infrastructure. This includes working with other underground infrastructure operators and governments on Call/Click Before You Dig programs.

One quick call or click, and technicians will come and mark the location of pipelines for free.

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