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Emergency Response Simulation Showcases Regional Capabilities

July 27, 2023/By: Bluewater Association for Safety, Environment, and Sustainability

St. Clair Township and Suncor’s St. Clair Ethanol Plant co-hosted this year’s emergency response simulation exercise on May 17 at the ethanol plant, with support from industry, police, and emergency response teams across the region. The yearly mutual aid exercise allows the opportunity for municipal and industrial partners to come together to test emergency response plans, equipment, and personnel, and identify areas for improvement in a safe and controlled environment. More importantly for the community, it’s an opportunity to ensure that effective communication systems are in place to call for assistance or get important safety messages to local workers and the community in a timely manner.

The selection of this year’s site location at the St. Clair Ethanol plant, provided the opportunity to create a unique scenario that really put the region’s mutual aid infrastructure to the test.  The St. Clair Ethanol Plant is a smaller site that does not have the on-site emergency response capabilities that some of the other industry partners do. In addition, Praxair has a facility on site and Nova operates their Mooretown site directly to the south of the ethanol plant, both of whom had roles to play in this year’s exercise. The exercise involved a simulated release of a large volume of ethanol from an on-site holding tank, resulting in a mutual aid request. The St. Clair Township Fire Department responded, with support from Sarnia, Point Edward, Nova, Shell, Suncor and Imperial fire departments, as well as assistance from Lambton College’s Fire School.

Observers, including representatives from regulatory agencies, school boards, Aamjiwnaang First Nation, local media, and Public Health, were invited to observe the simulation exercise via drone footage at the St. Clair Township municipal office. St. Clair Township Fire Chief, Richard Boyes and BASES General Manager, Jason Vaillant were on hand to walk the group through the exercise and share information about the long-standing history of mutual aid collaboration and the commitment to safety in the region.

This event provides an invaluable opportunity for industry leaders, emergency response teams, and community members to come together and learn from each other. This year’s event truly showcased the level of collaboration in action, with discussions on emergency response strategies, sharing of best practices, and relationship building.