Red River equipment deployment tests Enbridge’s preparedness chops

In North Dakota, and all across our enterprise, everyone plays an important role in emergency response readiness

Imagine actors in a full dress rehearsal for a play that they hope never gets staged.

That was the scenario played out last week by Enbridge emergency response crews, and regional emergency responders, during a field equipment deployment exercise on the Red River near Grand Forks, ND.

“One thing you will notice today is people stopping and asking questions,” Enbridge spokesman Mark Lyman told assembled media during the Aug. 30 drill. “We would move a lot faster if this was a real problem, but in this type of exercise, you want to make sure the guy with six months of experience and the guy with 30 years of experience, whether you are on the fire side or the Enbridge side . . . are working together and things are going smoothly.”

Enbridge focuses heavily on preventative measures—24/7 monitoring, regular inspections, maintenance digs, remotely controlled isolation valves—to keep our pipeline network healthy and fit for purpose.

We also invest significantly in emergency response tools and training—about $80 million worth from 2012 through 2016—to stay prepared in the event of an incident.

The Aug. 30 equipment deployment drill included about 60 representatives from Enbridge, Grand Forks and East Grand Forks fire departments, county emergency management agencies, sheriff’s departments, public health officials and city administrators.

Using boats, participants deployed about 1,000 feet of containment boom and a skimmer, as they reacted to a mock oil spill from Enbridge’s Line 81 where it crosses the Red River five miles upstream of Grand Forks—working through the stages of mobilization, containment, recovery, protection and emergency communications.

“If we did have a real response to an incident, (regional first responder agencies) would be involved immediately . . . they would be a critical part of our emergency response,” said Kevin Ruffatto, director of Enbridge’s North Dakota Region.

Over the past four years, through 2016, Enbridge has held an average of 385 exercises a year, including full-scale exercises, drills and equipment deployment drills, across our North American operations to test and improve our emergency preparedness and response systems.