Tools, training and teamwork on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Enbridge and oil spill response organizations stay familiar with emergency response equipment in Escanaba

It’s written on the flag of the U.S. Coast Guard in Latin. It’s the motto of the Boy Scouts.

And preparation was also the name of the game last week in Escanaba, Michigan, as Enbridge and various affiliated oil spill response organizations (OSROs) took part in a three-day emergency response training event.

With education in class, on land, and out on the surface of Little Bay de Noc, about 50 participants familiarized themselves with some of the $7 million worth of additional emergency response equipment purchased by Enbridge for deployment along our Line 5 pipeline in Michigan.

“Everything we do is all about public safety and the environment. We want to make sure that by owning this equipment, we can deploy it properly,” Greg Carter, Enbridge’s supervisor of emergency preparedness, told media.

“The risk on Line 5 is extremely low, but we want to overprepare for it . . . (it’s) for the sake of public safety that we do this,” he added.

In more than 60 years of operation, thanks to vigilance and commitment, the Line 5 Straits of Mackinac crossing has never experienced a leak.

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 unlikely event of an incident.

Last week, participants in the week-long training event used a number of work boats to deploy:

  • The NOFI Current Buster, a high-speed oil containment system designed for open water;
  • Small and medium-sized containment boom deployment devices known as Boom Vanes; and
  • A high-performance Foilex TDS 150 skimmer oil recovery system, which specializes in open-water recovery.

The $7 million in equipment announced in June 2016, all of which will be purchased within two years, includes ice response skimming systems, as well as additional containment, protection and absorbent boom, to enhance emergency response in multiple scenarios—rough open waters, ice cover, and near shore.

“The investments that Enbridge has committed to making in spill response assets is impressive. As someone who has been in the business of spill response for over 30 years, I find their commitment notable,” Charles Usher, president of Detroit-based Marine Pollution Control, said at the time of Enbridge’s announcement.

“I can’t think of another company,” said Usher, “that has made this level of investment without being required to do so by a regulation or governmental agency.”

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.