The reality of living in an industrial town is that an urgent crises, like an ammonia or SO2 gas leak, can happen via rail or road.
Communication between emergency responders is a lifesaver in emergency preparedness planning, and the impetus behind Tuesday’s training exercise for Teck Trail Operations and regional mutual aid partners.
“Teck Trail Operations and the companies responsible for transportation have numerous controls and procedures in place to ensure the safe handling and transport of our products,” says Catherine Adair, community relations leader, Teck Trail Operations. “This successful multi-agency exercise was an opportunity for Teck employees and other participants to practice our emergency response procedures and ensure we are well prepared.”
The real-time simulation involved the derailment of a rail car on an internal Teck road, which resulted in a mock two-vehicle crash near the tracks. Ammonia gas, a chemical product Teck purchases for fertilizer production, was leaking in the practise scenario. That mock hazard then led to the evacuation of residential Tadanac ( a group of Tadanac residents volunteered to be part of the plan) and some Teck employees through a secondary access of the plant.
“This exercise was a beneficial training opportunity for Regional District Kootenay Boundary, Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue, and our mutual aid partners,” says Deputy Regional Fire Chief, Dan Derby. “It was very successful; we were able to test activation of our emergency plan and Red Cross volunteers.”
The participating agencies included Teck, Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue, Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Emergency Program partners (City of Trail and Area B), RCMP, BC Ambulance Service, Canadian Red Cross, Interior Health Authority, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and Emergency Management BC.
“Teck and our mutual aid partners regularly conduct training both internally and through our emergency response agreements,” Adair said. “This training scenario was designed to incorporate all the participating agencies, and to ensure that all the first responders are prepared in the unlikely event that an incident may occur.”
The ammonia leak was simulated for the training exercise, an incident like this has never happened at the Trail plant.
Extensive emergency preparedness procedures and processes are in place, including Teck’s 24-hour Emergency Control Centre and mutual aid agreements with local municipalities.
“Safety is our first priority,” Adair said. “As such, we work to eliminate the possibility of a major incident. This is done through plant design, risk assessment and mitigation and implementing safety controls.”