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Questions and Answers

General Emergency Response Plan (ERP) Information

What is an Emergency Management Program?

An Emergency Management Program (EMP) provides a framework for an integrated approach to emergency management in order to anticipate, manage and mitigate the impacts of a potential pipeline emergency.

Through our EMP, Alliance identifies all safety hazards associated with its operations and then works diligently to manage and mitigate them. In the case of the EMP, this includes ensuring that Alliance is prepared for an emergency by having in place adequate resources and training and ensuring that Alliance is always at the ready to respond by enacting its comprehensive Emergency Response Plan (ERP).

What does a typical ERP contain?

A typical pipeline emergency response plan contains procedures that address a variety of potential emergency situations, as well as an overall operational framework assigning a wide range of critical, time-sensitive tasks to individuals designated by the plan. The content of an ERP is designed to empower pipeline operators and first responders to quickly and effectively manage a wide range of issues – from protecting the safety of those living in the immediately affected area, to implementing plans aimed at minimizing potential damage to the areas in which a pipeline operates and reducing associated environmental impacts. An ERP also provides a clear communications framework to ensure that impacted stakeholders are informed of and continuously engaged throughout an emergency situation.

How is an ERP developed?

Following consultation with experts across a variety of fields, including environmental preservation and integrity specialists, as well as on-the-ground first responders like police, fire and EMS, a framework of processes and responsibilities is established. This framework, which also makes provisions for collaboration and communications across all levels of stakeholders during an emergency, is then used to direct and support the overall response strategy during an emergency and to establish the basis for long-term recovery efforts. As part of the ERP development, many stakeholder groups are consulted to gain insights into the various areas of environmental and infrastructural sensitivity along a pipeline's right-of-way. These region-specific consultations ensure that ERPs are tailored to meet the needs of each community covered by the plan, and help to make sure that first responders in each area are aware of and can execute emergency response activities effectively.

Why must pipeline operators create ERPs?

Despite the safety measures implemented by Alliance Pipeline, energy infrastructure is not without operational hazards. And, in alignment with regulatory requirements, responsible operators take steps to ensure that a process is in place to immediately deal with any potential issues and emergencies that may occur throughout the lifecycle of a pipeline. This ensures the safety of individuals in close proximity to pipelines.

The pipeline industry is regulated, with direct oversight from governments at the federal and provincial/state level, and pipeline operators must be prepared when it comes to addressing potential incidents related to their operations.

What happens if there is a pipeline incident on land that I own or reside on?

The safety of residents and landowners along the pipeline right-of-way is of utmost importance to Alliance. Our ERP specifies procedures to effectively manage any sort of emergency along the pipeline's right-of-way. Specifically, our ERP lays out a defined procedure for gaining control of the incident and directing recovery work on all public and privately owned land. In the event of an incident on land owned by a party other than Alliance, the following would occur:
  • Every effort would be made to contact the property owner/resident to ensure they are safe and kept apprised of the situation.
  • Access to the area around an incident may be restricted for a period of time to ensure the safety of those nearby and ease of access for Alliance and/or first responders.
  • In some cases, it may be necessary for nearby residents to “shelter in place,” which means remaining safely indoors for the duration of the emergency. Residents would be contacted by local authorities should this become necessary.
  • In rare instances, it may be necessary for certain residents to evacuate. If required, an evacuation order would be put in place and evacuations would be coordinated by Alliance or local authorities. Individuals requiring evacuation assistance have been identified in advance and would receive assistance accordingly.
  • If evacuation required an overnight or extended stay elsewhere, Alliance Pipeline would make appropriate arrangements for accommodations and associated costs.
  • Any damage caused by the incident to public and private property would be assessed and compensation arranged after Alliance has gained control over the incident and started recovery efforts.

What sort of incidents could occur along the Alliance Pipeline?

The Alliance Pipeline is constructed of steel that is generally thicker than most other pipelines in North America. This, combined with 24 hour-per-day monitoring and multiple safety measures means the probability of a serious pipeline incident or emergency is low. However, risks, such as those associated with unauthorized excavation or a natural disaster, are present.

The most severe type of pipeline emergency would be a leak or rupture, in which case, block valves on either side of such would close, serving to isolate the section of pipe. The natural gas inside the pipe would dissipate, following which the emergency would be over and repair work would commence. While even more unlikely, should the natural gas ignite while dissipating, a fire could occur which would burn until the natural gas in the isolated section of pipe had been consumed. In such an instance, firefighting efforts would strive to contain the fire to the right-of-way. In most such instances, the fire would extinguish within a matter of a few hours to a few days.

While the probability of this type of emergency is low, Alliance works with first responders along the entire pipeline to ensure we are prepared to work together quickly and effectively to contain any such incident, minimizing any impact to nearby stakeholders.

How does Alliance Pipeline respond to incidents?

Alliance Pipeline's emergency response is grounded in the Incident Command System (ICS), an internationally recognized system for effective command, control, and coordination of an incident response. This system ensures seamless communication between company officials, first responders, impacted stakeholders, and the public at large.

Alliance employees have been trained through regular drills and emergency response exercises. This advanced preparation and incident-specific training helps to ensure a cohesive, measured response and proactive communication during incident response.

Alliance's actions are further guided by an ERP that focuses on protecting life safety as a first priority, and then protecting property and minimizing environmental impact.

As a member of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), Alliance is constantly working towards the overarching goal of zero incidents—as mandated by both associations. The association is made up of over 10 pipeline operators, and represents a collaborative approach to ensuring responsible, sustainable infrastructure development and maintenance.

How can I get information from Alliance Pipeline if there is an incident that impacts me or my property?

In the unlikely event of a pipeline incident, Alliance Pipeline will provide all impacted parties with timely information through a variety of channels, including any or all of the following:
  • Dissemination of incident and incident-response information to relevant local media to ensure that important information is broadly available;
  • Consultation and in-person support for impacted communities to inform residents about the specifics of a particular incident, immediate steps to address the incident, and expected recovery efforts;
  • Alliance representatives going door-to-door to residents in the vicinity of an emergency to provide information and handouts; and
  • Online information postings which contain information about what has occurred and what is being done to restore the situation to normal.

What training have Alliance Pipeline staff received to ensure that emergency management protocols are implemented universally and effectively?

Alliance Pipeline ensures that relevant employees and subcontractors are trained in executing our emergency response procedures. During the employee and subcontractor onboarding process, safety training and exposure to the company's ERP are compulsory. Additionally, employees are required to regularly review Alliance's ERP and protocols and routinely participate in safety simulations and drills. Some of these exercises engage first responders along the pipeline to ensure that procedures designed to mitigate and recover from an emergency can be executed with confidence and familiarity.

In addition, staff at various levels within the company have received training regarding the Incident Command System (ICS) model of emergency management, and are very familiar with the protocols prescribed by the system.

What are Alliance Pipeline's monitoring and security precautions along the pipeline right-of-way?

Alliance Pipeline has layered and constantly vigilant monitoring mechanisms and security measures in place to ensure pipeline safety. These include:
  • Remote monitoring of the entire pipeline system, 24 hours-per-day, 365 days-per-year;
  • Frequent visual inspections – by air and on foot – of the right-of-way to ensure that any potential issues are identified quickly;
  • Integrity digs to visually inspect the exterior of the pipe and an inline inspection program through which we inspect the interior of the pipe;
  • Video surveillance and security monitoring at all of our facilities, which works to ensure that infrastructure is kept safe and secure; and
  • Fences with locked gates at all facilities.
These measures are in addition to regularly-scheduled preventative maintenance and upgrading across the pipeline system, and work together to ensure that the pipeline right-of-way is kept safe.

Has Alliance Pipeline's ERP ever been used in an emergency situation?

Alliance has not had a serious pipeline safety emergency. However, Alliance has enacted its ERP to manage occasional operational issues. In addition, Alliance has utilized the Incident Command System, outlined in the ERP, to manage large-scale maintenance activities along the pipeline. This has provided a valuable opportunity for Alliance employees to "practice" components of its ERP. Alliance has also made it a regular practice to integrate the ERP into emergency preparedness drills whenever possible. This integration of the ERP into regular training activities ensures that employees are familiar with what is expected during an incident. In all such uses, Alliance's ERP proved to be effective.

What would happen in the event of a pipeline rupture?

The design of the Alliance pipeline and proactive safety measures in place are such that a rupture along the pipeline is extremely unlikely. If a rupture were to occur, block valves on either side of the rupture would close, serving to isolate the impacted section of pipe. The natural gas inside the pipe would dissipate, following which the emergency would be over and repair work would commence. While even more unlikely, should the natural gas ignite while dissipating, a fire could occur which would burn until the natural gas in this section of pipe had been consumed. In such an instance, firefighting efforts would focus on containing the fire to the right-of-way. In most such instances, the fire would extinguish within a matter of a few hours to a few days.

How does Alliance take the environment into account in terms of emergency response?

As a responsible operator, Alliance Pipeline strives to minimize the environmental impact of our operations. The same holds true in our approach to managing a pipeline-related incident.

For a natural gas pipeline, like Alliance, most environmental impacts would be limited to temporary impacts to air quality and/or vegetation in the area. Alliance is required to meet certain air quality standards and, as with the original construction of the pipeline, has a reclamation program in place to remediate any impacts to land that result from our pipeline and operations.

What does Alliance do to prevent an emergency from happening in the first place?

Alliance takes a proactive approach to preventing emergencies on our pipeline. This is evident in the design and construction of the pipeline itself, which is constructed of steel that is generally thicker than most other pipelines in North America. Block valves are located in regular intervals along the pipeline which automatically close should the pressure in the pipeline unexpectedly drop, allowing for isolation of sections of the system at a moment's notice.

Alliance monitors its entire pipeline system 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-per-year. In addition, Alliance has an integrity management program which includes things like regular inspections of the pipeline along with aerial and foot patrols of the right-of-way. This, combined with a proactive maintenance program, ensures the pipeline is in top working order. Alliance also employs damage prevention efforts to proactively mitigate the potential for third-party damage to the pipeline caused by unauthorized excavation, and actively employs security measures to keep our facilities safe. These are just a few of the steps that Alliance takes to ensure the safety of those living and working near our pipeline and facilities.

How does Alliance keep its emergency plans and documents up to date?

Alliance's Emergency Management Program, Emergency Response Plan and all related documents are part of Enbridge’s incident management structure. This system — and all of its components — are subject to continual review and improvement. Through the management system continual improvement cycle, emergency plans and documents are updated, as needed, to reflect evolving best practices, changes within the company or input from external parties.