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Western Canada Marine Response crews and vessels train in water off Sidney

Beach near Sidney’s Tulista Park serves as training ground for oil spill response crews and vessels

Crews and vessels of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation station – based on the Saanich Peninsula – trained last week on the removal of oil from beaches.

The shoreline flushing training held on the beach between the Anacortes ferry terminal and the boat launch ramp in Tulista Park saw crews deploy shoreline booms in the shape of rectangles with the beach forming one of the sides. On the beach itself, they placed a long blue hose parallel to the shoreline with hoses sucking water from the ocean into the blue hose.

The hose then dispensed the water onto the beach through holes on its top. If oil had indeed spilled onto the beach, the water draining out of the hose would then push any material back into the water, where the skimmer would then pick up the material off the water surface contained by the boom.

“If you get oil on beach, you want to get the oil off the beach, back in the water,” said Trevor Davis, base manager of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation in Sidney, as he watched the exercise from the pedestrian path running along the beach. “It seems weird, but we can recover it from the water. If it is on the beach, it starts going down (into the sand). We don’t like that.”

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Flushing the oil off the beach and back into the water accomplishes two things, said Davis. “It stops the oil from going down and it puts it in the water, from where we can recover it.”

Thursday’s exercise followed an exercise last December on the water between and around Beacon Wharf and Sidney Pier as members of Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 36 (Saanich unit) received training in shoreline protection strategies.

Western Canada Marine Response Corporation is the Transport Canada-certified marine spill response organization for Canada’s west coast. Its mandate under the Canada Shipping Act is to be prepared to respond to marine oil spills along British Columbia’s coastline and to mitigate the impacts of spills, including the protection of wildlife, economic and environmental sensitivities, as well as the safety of both responders and members of the public.

The local station operates in North Saanich out of a warehouse on Vancouver Airport Authority land with vessels anchored in Sidney’s Van Isle Marina.

A total of three vessels (including two landing crafts) and about two dozen crew members participated in the training.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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