Did you know: incident communication at the Sarnia Refinery

Community members in Sarnia-Lambton and the Port Huron, Michigan area can call the CAER Industry Update Line: 1-855-4SARNIA / 472-7642 to receive information about activity at the Suncor Sarnia refinery. This information source is updated regularly throughout an incident.

One of the most common questions we hear from the community is: “how do you communicate during an incident at the refinery?”

Communication is an extremely important part of our incident response process and we have worked hard to continually improve how we reach our stakeholders.

During an incident, there is a lot of different communication taking place. At the refinery, the people responsible for operating the plant are gathering all the necessary resources for the response. Our employees receive the information they may need, including safety precautions they should be taking, and a team called “Incident Command” is assembled to make sure all the things that are supposed to be done, get done.

When it comes to communication outside of the refinery, a number of people are working to make sure the right people are being notified: 

  • Our shift supervisor notifies the Chemical Valley Emergency Coordinating Organization (CVECO), so local emergency response resources have a heads up in case their support is needed.
  • Our Environment, Health and Safety team communicates with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), both through the local Sarnia District Office and Spills Action Centre.
  • Our Communications & Stakeholder Relations team connects with Aamjiwnaang First Nation’s Emergency Planner and records information to the Community Awareness Emergency Response Industry Update Line (1-855-4SARNIA) for the community to access. If there is an action needed from the community, both the My Community Notification Network and Aamjiwnaang’s Noondan Gezhawebag (“to hear what will happen”) notification system will provide details and instructions. Recently, we have also begun sharing information on Suncor’s social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter.

The flow of information continues beyond those initial notifications until the “all clear” is sounded.

We know one area we can continue to improve in is our follow-up after an incident. We have heard from our stakeholders that they want to learn more about what happened and the things we are doing to help prevent it in the future. In addition to working internally to improve this level of communication, we are also working with Aamjiwnaang First Nation, the Bluewater Community Advisory Panel and Sarnia Lambton Environmental Association to determine the best way to provide this information.

Ensuring that both the regulators and the community have timely, clear, factual information is important to us. We continue to work on balancing the level of information based on your needs.

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