How would local emergency responders react to an oil pipeline leak near Grand Forks?

It was a question Enbridge staff and firefighters from Grand Forks and East Grand Forks worked to answer as they trained for the scenario Wednesday on the Red River. About 60 people attended the nearly four-hour training session near the Sorlie Bridge as responders deployed boats, oil booms and skimmers.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

"One thing you will notice today is people stopping and asking questions," Enbridge spokesman Mark Lyman said. "We probably would move a lot faster if this was a real problem, but in this type of exercise, you want to make sure the guy with six months of experience and the guy with 30 years of experience, whether you are on the fire side or the Enbridge side, that they are working together and things are going smoothly."

Wednesday's drill focused on responding to a leak from an Enbridge pipeline that crosses the Red River about 5 miles south of Grand Forks. The company purchased the 55-year-old pipeline that runs from Williston to Clearbrook, Minn., in the 1990s.

Enbridge pipelines are monitored 24/7 for leaks and can be remotely shut down within minutes.

"Should we have a leak indicated, they would call our people onsite," said Kevin Ruffatto, Enbridge's North Dakota region director. "The field response team include people that are here today."

They then would determine the extent of the leak and where to put the booms and skimmers.

The pipeline company conducts four to eight drills on the line each year, and this is the second time it has done such an exercise in Grand Forks since 2015.