Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) has made significant progress delivering the spill response enhancement program for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, which will see more than $150 million invested in new equipment, personnel and response bases in the Salish Sea.

The enhancements are the largest-ever expansion of spill response resources in Canada and will double WCMRC’s existing response capacity and dramatically cut response times.

As of March 31, 2022, WCMRC has implemented the majority of requirements in the enhanced response regime, including:

New Vessels

WCMRC Vessel 1

Forty new custom-built response vessels have been delivered, including three coastal response vessels, three oil spill response vessels, eight landing craft, four workboats, 12 mini-barges and 10 boom skiffs.

In addition, an offshore supply vessel (OSV) has been leased; it will be based out of Cheanuh Marina in Beecher Bay and is expected to be in-service in 2023, when mechanical completion of the Project is anticipated to occur.

WCMRC Vessel 2

At 245 feet with 1,000 tonnes of oil storage capacity, it will be the largest ship in the fleet and will allow WCMRC to mount a large-scale response within six hours anywhere along the shipping lanes. Besides oil spill equipment, the OSV will be equipped for firefighting as well as vessel towing. This vessel will support the 24/7 oil spill response services to add to the level of protection of the Salish Sea, including Haro Strait and Juan de Fuca Strait.

In total, 44 additional new response vessels will be delivered as a result of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, doubling the WCMRC fleet to 88 vessels.

New Full-Time WCMRC Employment Opportunities

The WCMRC enhancements planned for 137 hires of whom 125 full-time employees have been hired with the majority of new employees assigned to the new bases on Vancouver Island.

The remaining 12 positions are expected to be filled by the end of 2022.

WCMRC team

New South Coast Response Bases

Construction is either underway or completed on the six new response bases in Port Alberni, Nanaimo, Sidney, Beecher Bay, Fraser River and Vancouver Harbour. These response bases serve as operational centres where staff and equipment are maintained in a state of readiness and from where prompt and efficient response could be provided for any oil spills in these waters. The Vancouver Harbour and Sidney bases will operate 24/7 on-water.

WCMRC Port Alberni Base

The new response base in Sidney on Vancouver Island opened in November 2021 and houses trained new personnel, a skimming vessel, landing craft and workboats. The base will serve as an important rapid response site for any spill from ships in the vicinity of the Gulf Islands.

WCMRC Sidney Response Base

Although the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is facilitating funding of all the enhancements, the new WCMRC personnel, vessels and equipment will be available for any spill incident along BC’s shipping lanes. This will further improve safety for the entire shipping industry, as well as residential, commercial and other users who traverse and enjoy the waters off the coast.

The enhanced response regime, as described in Trans Mountain's Condition 91: Plan for Marine Spill Prevention and Response Commitments, is designed to meet requirements of the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) Condition 133. WCMRC is on track to implement the majority of the remaining enhancements by the end of 2022. The OSV is expected to be in-service in 2023.

WCMRC Vessel 3

As these improvements continue, Trans Mountain remains committed to engaging with coastal communities and marine regime stakeholders of the Salish Sea. Upcoming engagement will be on key topics, including the enhanced spill response regime and support for safe Indigenous traditional marine use and spill response education and awareness.