ECRC~SIMEC is one of four government certified response organizations (RO) providing marine spill response services to the shipping industry and oil handling facilities operating in Canada. ECRC's client membership includes over 2300 members in total, comprised of approximately 2200 vessel members and close to 100 oil handling facilities.
With its vast geographic area of response, bordered by the Canadian Rockies to the west, the Great Lakes in the south, Hudson Bay in the north and Canada's exclusive economic zone in the east, ECRC~SIMEC has had the opportunity to respond to spills in a variety of environments. Response to oil spills in at sea, in rivers, lakes and estuaries have required the ability to adapt to challenging environments such as fast flowing waters, large tidal ranges, ice, and remote locations. In addition to ship source spills, ECRC~SIMEC has gained considerable experience responding to spills from pipelines and rail incidents, which have impacted waterways, most notably the spill following the Lac Mégantic derailment in 2013.
The company, which recently marked its 20th year anniversary, has taken the opportunity to look back at incidents attended and lessons learned over the years and to reflect on the resulting changes to its response capability and capacity. This paper will provide an overview of roles and responsibilities of a certified response organization within the context of the Canadian marine spill response regime and provide a retrospective look at incidents attended over the last 20 years. Cases of particular interest will be highlighted with a focus on responses in winter conditions and to non-conventional oils. This paper will briefly outline the regulatory framework that governs ROs preparedness and response to ship source spills in Canada and focus on the lessons learned from key incidents over the history of the company's existence.