Lincoln Heaney is the Indigenous Relations Advisor for Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) in the Duncan location, meanwhile WCMRC operates out of three bases on the west coast, the main one in Burnaby, one in Duncan, and one in Prince Rupert, B.C.. They provide oil spill solutions, oil spill response, and cleaning up oil spills.

"Equipment depends on the base, but includes booms, skimming equipment, sorbent pads, boats on trailers, and on Vancouver Island our larger vessels are moored in Victoria and Nanaimo," says Heaney. "When Kinder Morgan submitted their application they proposed marine safety enhancements that would effectively double the planning standards and cut the response times in half along the Southern Shipping route. If the Kinder Morgan project proceeds we have to be ready, therefore planning has gone on for the past couple of years."

The WCRMC expansion will include another base in the Lower Mainland, and the total number of bases on the island will rise to four from the existing one. "This would enhance response times especially for the southern shipping lanes. We would be looking at the Saanich Peninsula, Beecher Bay First Nation, Port Alberni, and Nanaimo" the expansion prompting a move from Duncan to bigger facilities, "and possibly some equipment in Ucluelet," on the west coast of the island. "One of the proposed new bases would reside on Beecher Bay First Nation between T'Souke and Victoria. It's a great location for us to put a base."

It would mean an increase in personnel, which is currently 65, and the estimate is that another 115 people would be hired, which along with this number goes training. "For the bulk, they are required to be Transport Canada certified mariners (for example, SVOP, 60 ton or 150 ton Masters.”

Heaney says, "We would also be hiring deckhands who will be required to have some Transport Canada certification, such as Marine Emergency Duties. They will receive on-the-job training such as safe operation of our various skimmers, vessel specific training, boom deployment, air-quality monitoring and shoreline cleanup.

The environmental industry deploys different types of skimmers for different products. Brush skimmers work better on heavier products and disk skimmers are more effective with lighter fuels. 

Should Kinder Morgan receive approval in December, 2016, there is and will continue to be a lot of planning and work in advance to be prepared.

"There are dates that we have to be ready by based on the Kinder Morgan dates as submitted," says Heaney. The agreement calls for WCMRC to be fully staffed with vessels operating 6 months before oil flows, "We've done all the investigative work. If approved we need to be running in time."

WCRMC is responsible to respond to spills along the 27,000 km of coastline and has a contractor program in addition to its fulltime personnel, "and we have the contractor network that includes a number of First Nations. We provide training on an annual basis to our contractors and furthermore a couple of First Nation contractors have worked with us on other training initiatives." WCMRC has eight First Nations that are contractors, "and we are in touch with a few more."

If the Kinder Morgan expansion project is approved, in order to meet the enhanced marine safety standards, WCMRC is planning an estimated $100 million investment, including infrastructure, new vessels, and new equipment. It's a large expansion for the organization celebrating its 40th anniversary in operation. "We are prepared, and certified, to handle a 10,000 tonne spill in 10 days (the highest tier certification under Transport Canada regulations). Kinder Morgan enhancements will increase that capacity to 20,000 tonnes and cut response times in half."

WCMRC currently exceeds Transport Canada specifications, even so, says Heaney, "There will be an impact during a spill but you mitigate against it spreading by a rapid effective response. Canada Shipping Act requires WCMRC be equipped with 15,000m of boom; we have 35,000m. The specification for skimming capacity calls for 26 tonnes an hour, "we have the capacity for 550 tonnes an hour."

Canada is doing its best to take care of its coastline. "We continue to expand and stay ahead on the technology."

Funding for WCMRC comes from shippers, any vessel over 400 tonnes is required to have membership, and companies moving oil across a dock pay a bulk oil cargo fee and then any vessel moving oil product of 150 tonnes or more (barges moving diesel into communities up and down the coast) must be members. WCMRC operates in a revenue neutral position.

WCMRC Expansion of Oil Spill Response Preparations Calls For 6 Months Lead Time

Western Canada Marine Response Corporation
Western Canada Marine Response Corporation