Safe practice makes safe response

The Adelaide wind farm located near Strathroy, Ontario.

Did you know Suncor wind farms practice emergency response exercises on a regular basis?

Suncor’s Andria Singleton and Joe Starcok prepared and ran a full-scale emergency exercise with the renewable energy team in October at the Adelaide Wind Power Project near Strathroy, Ontario, which Suncor operates and also owns in partnership with Aamjiwnaang First Nation.

“Safety is a top priority for all of us,” says Joe, Adelaide Wind Power Project supervisor, noting there has not been a serious incident at Adelaide during its five-year operating history. 

“Emergency preparedness is important so we can identify hazards and put plans or processes in place to avoid incidents. However we know incidents do happen, so it’s critical we have response plans in place so we can keep community members and operators safe during an incident.”

While operating a wind farm comes with less risk than other energy industry facilities, there are always workplace hazards to consider. For example, operators work around electricity, they work from heights, and they can be harmed from objects dropped from above.

Andria co-ordinates Suncor’s Renewable Energy Response Management Team and confirms that wind farm-specific incidents have also occurred in the industry such as tower collapses, blade failures, battery fires and electrical faults at substations.

“While rare, Suncor and our partners work hard to prevent those types of incidents by having safe work practices and operating procedures, regular asset maintenance, and necessary protection systems.”

The renewable energy team holds two emergency preparedness exercises per year. Both have the same goal: to ensure teams are prepared for any emergency that could unfold. The full scale exercise held in October included the participation of Suncor’s contract maintenance provider and local first responders.

Joe says an emergency response exercise is multifaceted. “We present the response team with a prepared scenario and each member fulfills their designated role as we work collaboratively through the scenario. The exercises give team members an opportunity to safely practice their skills, while helping pinpoint any potential gaps in our emergency preparedness or response procedures that we need to address.”

Suncor is proud of its safety record at Adelaide. At the same time, emergency response exercises will continue to be a key part of our wind farm operations, so we can be as safe and prepared as possible in the event of a real emergency.

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