The joint exercise was the first of its kind for the industry and was aimed at testing the Mutual Emergency Assistance Agreement (MEAA), which CEPA’s members signed in November 2013. The agreement formalized the industry practice of sharing human resources, equipment and tools between companies in the event of a significant incident.
“Today marks a significant milestone for CEPA members – because today we test our ability to effectively collaborate, communicate and respond to a pipeline emergency,” said Dr. Brenda Kenny, CEPA’s president and CEO, during the exercise.
The industry can work together if a major incident were to happen
Pipeline-related emergencies are rare. However, the MEAA allows any CEPA member company to ask for assistance from another member company in the unlikely event of a major incident. Because the exercise was designed to test the MEAA, companies followed the protocol outlined by the agreement during a simulated emergency.
Alliance’s Emergency Preparedness and Security Lead, Adam Eason acted as the Operations Section Chief for the exercise.
“This exercise proved the industry can successfully work together if a major incident were to happen,” said Eason. “Everyone was able to take off their company caps and become a truly unified team.”
Under the MEAA, the pipeline company requesting assistance directs the overall emergency response. Other member companies work within Incident Command System (ICS) protocols while providing assistance to ensure the response is effective and efficient and communication is kept open.
“Any incident is everyone’s incident”
Pipeline companies are required by regulations to conduct their own emergency response drills (Alliance does this regularly). However, this joint exercise was not mandatory. It was organized by CEPA’s members because they want to have a well-tested plan in place and they want to continuously improve pipeline safety by working together.
“CEPA member companies have voluntarily chosen through MEAA to work together and improve response capabilities by sharing resources and best practices during an emergency,” said Kenny. “This collaboration is an indication that in our industry, when it comes to safety, there is no competition, but only collaboration. Any incident is everyone’s incident.”