Oil spill drill

Kinder Morgan will be conducting a drill much like this one on the South Thompson River near Pioneer Park on Wednesday.
Image Credit: Kinder Morgan

KAMLOOPS - Kinder Morgan runs regular emergency response training exercises for staff and this year they decided it's time for a lesson on how to clean up the river in an oil spill.

On Wednesday, May 14, Kinder Morgan staff, local officials, emergency planners, first responders and First Nations representatives will be on hand at Pioneer Park to conduct pipeline emergency response training. About 75 people are expected to take part.

The scenario will be based on a simulated oil spill in the South Thompson River. No actual product will be spilled though it'll be designed for participants to learn how to clean up and capture oil on a river surface.

The company practices on-water drills along different parts of the pipeline every year to ensure employees have actual hands on experience in using the necessary equipment.

“Last year we conducted a similar exercise at the Nicola Lake near Merritt and just recently we conducted another on-water deployment drill on the Fraser River near Chilliwack,” Natalie Loban of Kinder Morgan says.

The last spill reported in Kamloops was in March 2011 at the terminal location when 8.8 barrels worth of waste oil was spilled. Of the nine recorded spills in the region over the last 50 years most have occurred at the tank farm or terminal.

The company asked the city for a spot that could be booked for this type of training and the city recommended this park because it would have the least impact on residents. Flaggers will be helping guide people in the park while the drill is taking place.

The drill will take place between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. with the company using the boat launch area, most of the beach, parking and picnics areas at Pioneer Park.

Park Operations Supervisor Shawn Cook says while the company has utilized other areas of the city for training in the past, such as Kenna Cartwright Park, this is the first time a river park has been used.

“The location at Pioneer Park has been chosen because it provides the opportunity to practice varying response techniques given the variety of shoreline and equipment we have available.” Loban says. “In addition, should there be an incident not related to Trans Mountain, our staff could be called upon to help in the response effort because we’ve got equipment and trained personnel to respond in an emergency.”

Loban adds prevention is the best strategy and the company strategy includes measures such as 24/7 monitoring of the pipeline, leak detection, corrosion protection, natural hazards management and aerial and ground patrols.

The Trans Mountain pipeline travels through Kamloops and is in the midst of the expansion proposal process. The pipeline currently runs through Westsyde and part of Lac du Bois before crossing under the river by the airport. It then travels through Kenna Cartwright Park and the proposed Ajax Mine site and then stays east of the Coquihalla Highway south to Merritt.

The pipeline has a total length of 32,350 km and runs from Strathcona County near Edmonton, Alta. to Burnaby and carries about 300,000 barrels worth of oil each day.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infotelnews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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