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Spill Response for Inland Environments

The Industry Challenge:

Oil spills in inland environments can be more complex to contain and recover than marine spills as the oil can be transported great distances along waterways, can interact with more shoreline and has the ability to interact with suspended sediment, debris and vegetation. In addition, in Canada and other northern climates, low air and water temperatures, even temperatures well above freezing could have significant impacts on the performance and deployment of oil containment and recovery technologies. Finally, the types of hydrocarbon products that might be released, ranging from bitumen, to diluted bitumen, conventional oil and refined products, might require substantially different response procedures and equipment.

The greatest challenge is that spill response procedures and equipment cannot be tested in the actual operating environment due to the potential for contaminating the environment. Surrogate fluids that have less potential to damage the environment do not replicate the full range of behaviours of real hydrocarbon products as they interact with suspended sediment, disperse in waves and currents and age with exposure to the environment. In Canada, there are no facilities where spill response equipment can be tested with controlled releases of hydrocarbon product, making it difficult to evaluate and compare the performance of different technologies, develop best practices for deployment and operation and to train personnel in these procedures.

How the JIP Helps:

The project will evaluate the effectiveness of oil spill response, containment and recovery technologies for inland spills on waterways and on land. The first phase of the project consists of a technology review to identify commercial and pre-commercial technologies that have the potential to assist with inland spill response. Future phases are anticipated to include large‑scale laboratory tests of oil recovery technologies to determine their performance in a variety of simulated environments with a variety of crude and diluted bitumen products. Eventually, the intent of the project is to establish a facility dedicated to simulating full-scale oilfield releases on land and water that will assist in the development of industry best practices in deploying and operating spill response equipment, refinement and demonstration of these technologies and training for spill response personnel.

The results of the Project will assist operators in selecting appropriate equipment for a wide range of environmental conditions and will provide critical information to equipment Vendors on the requirements and performance of their systems so improvements may be made and new technologies developed. In addition, it is expected that the expertise and testing facilities developed through this program will become key resources for training emergency response personnel in the safe and efficient use of spill response equipment.

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