Simulated smoke engulfs a Gibson Energy tank truck during exercise ‘blow up’ a full scale exercise to allow the company to practice the procedures to be followed should a real disaster occur.

‘Exercise blow up’ carried out at Gibson Energy

The scenario is frightening and very realistic.

The scenario is frightening and very realistic.

Even as the clouds roll in and the threat of winter hangs about in the air, ominously, an all too believable scene plays itself out at Gibson Energy.

‘Exercise blow up,’ a mock disaster took place at Gibson Energy last Thursday morning.

It started out slowly.

Picture this scenario.

The town is beginning the hustle and bustle of another day, the shops are open, the usual morning crew of coffee drinkers are settled into their favourite spot.

Unbeknown to these locals, black smoke is drifting towards the town of Rimbey from the Gibson site east of town.

The whole concept is make-believe, of course, but it doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen.

With this in mind, Gibson Energy proceeded with their staged mock disaster, an exercise which took around three hours Thursday and included Rimbey fire department and enforcement officers coming on site.

The stage was set at about 9:30 a.m.

The weather was cold and windy and the staff at Gibson Energy Rimbey was going about their daily routine.

The mock disaster included the scenario of a tank truck, fully loaded with condensate, pulling into the site.

The driver signed off at the office and then began offloading at Riser No. 2.

The site is vacant expect for the driver.

The ‘what if’ scenario includes the possibility that a small leak starting at the nozzle.

When the driver attempts to adjust it, the hose bursts, spraying the driver with condensate.

The hose becomes detached from the truck and condensate begins leaking from the tank and the hose.

No one else on site is aware of the impending disaster.

Either a spark or heat from the truck ignites the condensate and the front trailer and riser box explode into flames.

The driver falls to the ground, trying to put out the fire that has engulfed him.

He is severely burned and has collapsed a short distance from the truck.

Meanwhile the condensate flows uncontrolled from the tank truck.

There is a large amount of heavy, black smoke and burning product all around the fill station.

The wind is blowing the smoke towards the town of Rimbey.

Of course, none of the above actually happened, but a truck was indeed parked at the riser and suddenly the vehicle appeared to be shrouded in a huge cloud of smoke.

And, if an observer were to look carefully through the simulated smoke, they could see a 245-pound dummy lying on the ground by the truck.

From there the action begins.

Although much of the activity is behind the scenes, the steps taken are immediate and communication between Gibson Energy members at the Rimbey site and Gibson EOC members at Calgary Corporate office are ongoing.

The site is immediately cordoned off, the fire department and enforcement officers arrive on the scene.

Kim Irving CEO of ERMC, the company who worked with Gibson Energy to stage the exercise, played the role of the RCMP and media during the event.

ERMC will issue a formal report regarding the exercise at a later date.

“That will tell us what we can build on, what we did well and how we can continue to improve,” said Doug Wells, health, safety, security and environment services representative for Gibson Energy.

Rimbey plant manager Bryant Plunkett was pleased with the exercise.

“I thought it went really well,” he said. “We had positive feedback and it was a really good learning experience.”