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Poster Presentations: Intergovernmental Collaboration
Manitoba Winter Storm 2019 and Its Aftermath: Spill Clean-up
Fiona Scurrah, Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions
The objective of this presentation is to share a major weather-related insulating oil spill in Manitoba and the resulting collaborative and community-focused remediation work that was undertaken.  

Thanksgiving 2019 saw Manitoba get hit with a major weather event that resulted in numerous transmission and distribution powerline failures. Distribution poles snapped and created a cascading effect down a line. The main cause of the failures was a result of wet snow and sleet build-up on the conductor line as well as trees falling onto the lines due to the ice build-up on the branches. Many of the distribution poles contained pole mount transformers which, when the pole fell, broke open and spilled their contents of insulating oil. Communities in the Interlake region of Manitoba suffered a significant loss of distribution lines, with over 23 kms of downed distribution line and the communities had to be evacuated. The communities of Lake St. Martin and Little Saskatchewan First Nation had just returned to the area after a prolonged absence from the overland flooding that occurred in 2011 and required a rebuilding of the community further inland from the lake. In this area alone, there were over fifty spill events ranging in released of 5 to 300 L of insulating oil. Some poles contained only one pole mount transformer, while others were in groupings of 2 to 4, resulting in the higher concentrations of insulating oil spilled. In some instances, the pole mount transformers may have also contained PCBs depending upon the Manitoba Hydro PCB dot system. All spills had to be assessed and preliminary sampling undertaken to assess the extent of the release and whether or not PCBs were an issue. Sampling for fractions 2, 3 and 4 along with PCBs was undertaken. Remediation for all sites within the community was undertaken with confirmatory sampling done once remediated. Local labour and equipment were used to assist in the clean-up of the impacted sites. All sites assessed by Wood confirmed that the presence of PCBs was '<' 0.3 mg/kg DWt. Sites were then backfilled and covered with erosion and sediment blankets to aid in the reestablishment of natural vegetation. Cooperation with Manitoba Sustainable Development over the spill management and reporting was paramount in order for Manitoba Hydro to be able to effectively deal with an event of this magnitude.

Fiona Scurrah, Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions
Fiona Scurrah has worked in the environmental sciences field for over 25+ years in various capacities and within various resource sectors (i.e., fisheries, oil and gas, hydroelectric utilities) – from environmental assessment to enforcement/compliance monitoring to environmental biophysical monitoring to ISO 14001 auditing.

Fiona had worked within the federal civil service for 16 years in various positions dealing with enforcement and compliance (i.e., Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Detachment Supervisor, DFO Fishery Officer Supervisor, DFO Federal Fishery Officer, DFO/Canadian Food Inspection Agency Fish Inspection Officer and Canada Customs Officer) for a variety of environmental and criminal legislation. Other roles within the federal civil service included program management of Indigenous fisheries implementation and management of fisheries programs as a management biologist.

Fiona spent 12 years with MB Hydro as a Senior Environmental Specialist and worked directly with various departments, regulators, Indigenous communities, consultants and other stakeholders in environmental assessment activities. She led and managed technical personnel, during the environmental assessment phases as well as during the implementation of environmental protection plans as they related to transmission projects. She developed process improvements for activities such as spill tracking within the Transmission Line and Civil Construction Department.

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