Staying watchful in Wisconsin: Honing our emergency response readiness

Enbridge equipment demo draws first responders, elected officials

Emergency response capability, from Enbridge’s perspective, is a lot like car insurance.

We absolutely need it. We don’t cut corners on it. But we hope we never use it.

“You can see,” says Jerry Minor, chief of the Pittsville, WI, Fire Company, “that Enbridge puts a ton of emphasis on preparation—and overplanning, in a good way.

“In other words,” he adds, “if an incident happens, they can throw the whole kitchen sink at it.”

When it comes to pipeline safety, the bulk of our focus at Enbridge is on prevention programs, such as inspections, monitoring, maintenance and public awareness.

But we also maintain strong emergency preparedness and response systems—and we regularly test and continuously improve these systems alongside local first responders, emergency management, and government agencies.

Last week, as part of Enbridge’s ongoing emergency response engagement across our North American pipeline network, we held a Wood County Emergency Response Demonstration event in Nekoosa, WI, for emergency responders and elected officials.

The full-day event on Sept. 21 included a morning presentation and an afternoon equipment demonstration on the shores of the Wisconsin River—and showcased the people, processes and equipment that would be mobilized in the event of a pipeline incident.

Nearly 300 emergency response officials, community leaders, elected officials, industry representatives and media from central Wisconsin were invited to our Wood County Emergency Response Demonstration.

“I want to take the time to thank Enbridge Energy for organizing a great emergency response demonstration that highlighted their commitment to safety,” said State Representative Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa). “Speaking for myself, our local community leaders and emergency responders, we all have a much better understanding of how deeply committed Enbridge is to being a good community partner.”

Equipment on hand at the event included an oil skimmer and recovery station, containment boom with a deployment system, a response boat, a decontamination trailer, and a mobile incident command post—the majority of which are kept ready for deployment in the nearby communities of Vesper and Fort Atkinson.

“The equipment, and the equipment availability, was very impressive. I had no idea that Enbridge had that much equipment for a potential response,” says Minor, whose Pittsville Fire Company, comprised mainly of volunteers, protects about 300 square miles of territory.

“We spent a lot of time talking with Enbridge personnel, and I feel very confident in their abilities.”

Since 2012, Enbridge has invested and deployed more than $57 million in new response equipment, from boom to boats to skimmer systems, across our North American operations.

We’ve averaged nearly 400 company-wide exercises, drills and equipment deployments a year since 2012, and we’ve held more than 700 in-person meetings with emergency responders in the U.S. since 2013 through our Emergency Response Ambassador program.

“We believe all incidents are preventable,” remarks John Chase, Enbridge’s emergency response coordinator for our Chicago Region.

“But in the unlikely event of a pipeline incident, a swift response can be managed—which is why we invited public officials, first responders and others from the region to see our capabilities firsthand.”

(TOP PHOTO: Enbridge operations staff show regional emergency responders and community leaders an oil skimmer and recovery station during Enbridge's Wood County Emergency Response Demonstration on Sept. 21 in Nekoosa, WI.)