WCMRC Fast Facts

  • Start Up Date – 1976
  • Full Time Staff – 50
  • Available Trained Responders – 500
  • Members – 2,000+
  • Offices/Warehouses – 3
  • Oil Spill Response Vessels – 30
  • Response Trailers – 52
  • Support Vehicles – 17
  • Response Incidents per year (average) – 20
  • Responsible for 27,000km of BC Shoreline


-What do WCMRC employees do between spills?
The majority of our non-response time is spent ensuring our equipment and personnel are response ready.  WCMRC has an extensive preventative maintenance program where every piece of equipment is run-up and tested on a 3 month basis and each boat is taken out at least every 2 weeks.  In addition to the basic spill response training program, our personnel attend equipment specific training, cross-border training with our mutual aid partners in both Alaska and Washington State, membership training and exercises, spill response exercises, both table-top and equipment deployment, regulated training such as vessel master certification forklift & crane training and first aid training.  There is also other safety training, such as confined space entry and atmosphere testing, Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG).  On an annual basis we send employees to training sessions at OHMSETT in New Jersey and the Northwest Oil Spill Control Course in Port Angeles, Washington.
-Are WCMRC responders available 24/7/365?
Yes, we have a duty officer on call 24/7/365 with the ability to activate crew and equipment on short notice, anywhere in our geographical area of response.
-If I see an oil spill, can I call you?
Any incident involving the spillage of oil or petroleum lubricating products into the marine environment must be reported immediately to the Canadian Coast Guard.  In addition, the vessel operator should report the incident to the 24-hour Spill Reporting Center.
-If there is an oil spill, can I volunteer to help?
Due to our requirement to meet Transport Canada’s training standards, WCMRC does not have a “volunteer” process.  That does not mean you can’t help with the clean up.  We contract a number of environmental response companies who require spill clean up workers during a marine spill.  These workers will be required for shoreline clean up, worker sign-in/sign-out, decontamination stations, etc.  There are also a number of organizations involved in spill response who rely on volunteers, such as Oiled Wildlife organizations and the Red Cross.
-Who is your competition?
Because we are owned by our membership, we don’t have any competition.  WCMRC is required to meet extensive Transport Canada requirements that includes the ability to respond to a marine spill of up to 10,000 tonnes anywhere on BC’s coast within a prescribed time.  Over the past 30 years, WCMRC has acquired an inventory of the best spill response equipment, vessels, boom and personnel which enables us to fulfill these requirements.
-Are WCMRC responders trained in dilbit (diluted bitumen) in the marine environment?
In Canada we are not permitted to introduce oil product into the marine environment for the purpose of training.  However, we do have test tanks where we can run our various skimmers for training and demonstration of capabilities.  We also deploy, as part of our exercise program, equipment and simulated marine oil spills in order to test the strategies/tactics and overall spill management. In 2007 WCMRC successfully responded to a synthetic crude spill in the Burrard Inlet utilizing our equipment and response tactics.
-What type of training and experience is required to become an oil spill responder?
Transport Canada has set minimum training requirements for anyone responding to a marine oil spill.  Anyone working on a vessel as a deckhand/spill responder will require certification in Marine Emergency Duties, vessel specific training, spill response equipment orientations, and a Transport Canada approved Basic Oil Spill Responder course.  WCMRC offers basic spill response training in many coastal communities throughout the year.  Vessel operators and skippers require equipment specific (vessel orientation) training prior to working on WCMRC response boats. Shoreline response personnel are required to attend a safety orientation which includes: basic oil spill safety, shoreline safety, response equipment operation, decontamination training, air operations safety training, and wilderness survival training on an as-required basis.
-What was the largest oil spill WCMRC has responded to?
We were requested by our Washington State mutual aid partner to assist at the Deepwater Horizon – Gulf of Mexico spill of 2010.  WCMRC was able to send 15 crews of 13 responders on a 2 week on and 2 week off rotation.  We also sent containment and fire boom as well as supervisor personnel. Our largest Canadian responses are:
  1. Burrard Inlet crude oil clean up of 2007 (approximately 100,000 liters),
  2. Squamish bunker oil clean up of 2006 (approximately 29,000 liters) and
  3. Lake Wabamun, Alberta bunker oil clean up of 2005 (approximately 734,000 liters). WCMRC also responded to the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, sending a skimming vessel and crew as well as spill response advisers.
-I heard that oil recovery is 15% during a spill response.  Is 15% recovery considered average?
There are a number of factors that can be used to measure a successful spill response.  Our response objectives are to minimize environmental and economic impacts from spills.  Work crews will deploy booms in two different ways.  First boom is used to exclude oil from entering sensitive areas that have been identified ahead of time or through the Environmental Unit within the Incident Command.  The second way in which a boom is deployed is to contain oil for recovery.  Recovery efficiencies will depend on mobilization time, and weather.
-Who pays for marine oil spill clean-up?
In accordance with the Marine Liability Act, the owner of a ship is strictly liable for oil pollution damage including reasonable costs for clean-up, monitoring, preventative measures, and reinstatement measures. This is referred to as the “polluter-pay principle.”   The Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund (SOPF) is Canada’s domestic fund and is under an independent administration. It is liable for claims relating to oil pollution damage, costs and expenses of oil spill clean up, and preventative measures and monitoring from all classes of vessels.
-Does WCMRC respond only to oil spills, or do you clean up other hazardous material spills?
As a Transport Canada certified Response Organization, WCMRC’s mandate is to ensure there is a state of perparedness in place and to mitigate the impact when an oil spill occurs.  This includes strategies and tactics for the protection of wildlife, economic and environmental sensitivities and the safety of both responders and the public.  WCMRC is mandated to respond to products listed on the Marpol 73/78 ANNEX 1 prescribed by the International Marine Organization (IMO).  These include oil based products such as crude oils, fuel oils, asphalt solutions, distillates, gas oils and jet fuels.  It does not include chemicals.
-How is WCMRC funded?
We are completely funded by industry.  Our shareholders are the 4 major oil companies (Imperial Oil, Shell Canada, Chevron and Suncor) and Trans Mountain pipelines.  Our membership of more than 2,000 marine operators, air services, lumber mills, fishing camps, ferries, port authorities and cruise ships annual dues assist in WCMRC’s funding.
-Is WCMRC part of the Government or a Crown Corporation?
No, WCMRC is a private company certified as a Response Organization by Transport Canada – Marine Safety.  We work, train and exercise closely with a number of government departments including municipalities, port and harbour authorities, Canadian Coast Guard, Environment Canada, BC Ministry of Environment and Coastal First Nations.
-Is WCMRC a Canadian owned company?
Yes, WCMRC was formed from a small response co-op known as Burrard Clean Operations which was originally developed in 1976 by four oil companies who had refineries in Burrard Inlet and a pipeline company that was shipping out of the inlet.  The co-op ensured there was a state of preparedness in Vancouver Harbour (Burrard Inlet) in the event of a spill.