Enbridge explains new oil spill protocols
By Matt Mikus firstname.lastname@example.org August 15, 2013 9:06AM
Updated: August 15, 2013 11:42PM
MERRILLVILLE — Using a hypothetical spill in Hobart, Enbridge officials explained how new plans developed by the pipeline company would address an oil spill.
The company invited members of emergency response crews Wednesday to hear how Enbridge staff would respond within the first 48 hours of a reported spill.
The company, according to staff at the panel, developed more detailed response plans after the pipeline rupture in Marshall, Mich. caused 20,082 barrels of oil to spill into the Kalamazoo River.
“Let’s not beat around the bush,” said Mark Curwin, Enbridge’s director of major projects execution. “Marshall happened. We can’t change that now. But what we can change is what we do since that happened. It has affected us as employees, and we spent a lot of time and effort trying to keep Marshall from happening again.”
The panel created a hypothetical spill near Deep River in Hobart, with almost 11,915 barrels released, then guided the audience through how their new process would handle the spill.
“This level of spill would be a worst case scenario that we would experience in Northwest Indiana,” said spokesperson Jennifer Smith.
Technology in the soon to be installed 6B pipeline will offer controllers in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to remotely close the pipeline, isolating the spill.
After stopping the flow in the pipes, the company would begin to establish calls and sending crews to respond.
Within the first few hours, Enbridge’s staff would try to mobilize staff and contractors to help establish boons in the river. At the same time, environmental staff would head up river to begin gathering background data.
Tim Anderson, the Enbridge Griffith area manager, said the first 48 hours would likely be solving problems in a reactionary response, then once a command system is in place and the spill is contained, the response could move into a proactive approach.
But the first priority is always safety, including evacuating residences and insisting the crews working on the spill aren’t at risk.
“After the calls are made and the valves are shut off, our priorities are to protect the public, protect the crew, then protect the environment,” Anderson said.
The company’s contingency plan uses mapping technology to identify locations of higher risk along the pipeline, and develop plans to address a catastrophic spill in those areas.
Locations to stage equipment and command centers, hotels where crew can stay, and shops to purchase supplies are also included into the companies plan, fed in through mapping technology.
The plan is also designed to help local agencies responding to the spill work together.
Dan McCoy, a property owner of Liberty Township, said he appreciated the increased level of training for the pipeline.
“It looks like they have a lot of information,” McCoy said, “and having a contingency plan is one of those best practices that helps everyone.”
Susan Baugher of Porter County 911 was surprised at the level of detail presented at the panel.
“I thought it was going to be more of ‘here is what you do,’” Baugher said. “I was encouraged to see that they would work with the local agencies.”
Agencies in attendance included Chesterton Fire Department, Porter County Emergency Management Agency, Griffith Fire Department, Lake County Homeland Security Emergency Management, Highland Police, and Indiana State Police. Representatives from the Northwest Indiana Forum and Save The Dunes were also present.