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Oil spill scenario cold weather exercises held near Montreal

Don Horne   


Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL), partnering with members of the Global Response Network, completed its latest ice-covered water exercise – which had responders engaging in realistic spill scenarios in several critical cold weather strategies.

The three-day exercise was held outside Montreal, Que., and saw OSRL’s team partner with responders from the Eastern Canada Response Corporation alongside observers from the Norwegian Clean Sea Association and Transport Canada.

“Exercises like this are essential to the continuous development of our response teams. By working with partners that share our commitment to preventative maintenance and HSEQ (Health, Safety Environment and Quality), we’re able to impart knowledge, learn new best-practice approaches to specific challenges and build upon proven strategies in environments where real spills are thankfully incredibly uncommon,” said Andy Nevin, response process manager for OSRL and chair of the organization’s Cold Weather Subject Matter Experts group. “The lessons we learn through this type of exercise are genuinely critical to ensuring efficient management of a spill in a freezing environment, which understandably presents a unique set of issues – that need to be managed in specific ways. Some of the insights we gain are substantial, while other learnings are much smaller; collectively, however, they validate our training and are vital to standardizing the response approach across the industry.”

Working in challenging conditions, with temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius, the focus for the event was on developing an enhanced understanding of relevant cold weather response tactics, as well as the logistic and planning requirements that would enable teams to respond more efficiently in the event of an oil spill in ice-covered waters.


Over the course of the exercise, a pipeline-related spill scenario was played out on the ice, following the same processes and procedures that responders would follow in the event of a real incident. This included establishing teams of responders to manage specific spill locations along the Rivière-du-Nord, a field operation office to manage the responders, and an off-site Emergency Operations Centre to coordinate the entire process.



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