Frequently Asked Questions

What is the relationship between WCSS and their members that pay annual membership fees?

  • Licensees of wells, pipelines and facilities must be a member in good standing of WCSS Oil Spill Cooperative or have an approved plan registered with Provincial Regulators in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. WCSS is the most cost effective means of meeting this regulatory requirement.
  • WCSS is a volunteer-based company with many member companies that provide volunteers at the field level to ensure the upstream petroleum industry is prepared to respond to oil spills.
  • WCSS provides a number of services to its members including:
    • Provision of oil spill contingency plans for each of our 18 Cooperatives; these plans are supplemental to a company’s corporate emergency response plan.
    • Access to oil spill initial spill response equipment, regional and specialized equipment.
    • Maintenance and insurance for oil spill equipment.
    • Access to training including annual Coop exercises, open registration courses and custom-designed courses for both members and non-member companies.
    • Communication programs and public awareness initiatives.
    • Quality assurance through our field improvement program.
    • Assistance with initial spill response.

As part of my dues to WCSS, will WCSS provide competent response personnel, including an Incident Commander to supervise containment and recovery operations if my company were to have a spill?

  • WCSS is a spill preparedness organization, not a response contractor. It is the responsibility of the company that experiences the spill (responsible party) to have trained responders at their spill.
  • WCSS typically provides spill response support to the responsible party if requested to do so, including:
    • Assistance with the identification of equipment and getting the equipment mobilized to a staging area.
    • Assistance finding certified boat operators when WCSS boats are being used.
    • Provision of volunteer responders from other member companies for initial spill response only; it is important to recognize that these volunteers are not on stand-by.
    • Assisting with the identification of subject matter experts and specialized resources.

Does WCSS have a list of competent consultants that is available to my company?

  • WCSS will provide a list of certified boat operators and assist the responsible party with scheduling them for boat operations linked to the spill.
  • WCSS maintains an internal resource list but does not publish the list for reasons linked to confidentiality and liability; member companies are advised to maintain their own list of spill contractors.
  • WCSS will provide the names of subject matter experts during the initial spill response phase provided we obtain clearance to do so from those contacts in our resource list; however it is the member company’s responsibility to determine if the contacts that we provide qualify for the work.

Our Company has some experienced boat operators in our area; can they operate WCSS boats if we have a spill?

  • They can operate WCSS boats only if they have Transport Canada’s MED A3 certification and certification in the WCSS boat handling course plus re-certification every 3 years.

Once contacted and given the location of the spill, will the WCSS Equipment Custodian deliver the equipment to a staging area for us?

  • The regional equipment custodians will assist you with transporting the equipment to your spill site; but in some cases the initial spill response units in the Cooperatives are maintained at member company sites and it will be your responsibility to have someone pick them up and deliver to your spill.
  • Most of the smaller units can be towed by light-duty vehicles, and the hauling requirements can be found on our website and in your WCSS oil spill contingency manual.
  • If you experience problems accessing equipment call our Equipment Manager directly at 780 288-4114 for assistance.

Is it WCSS’s responsibility to locate, document and maintain control points within the Coop boundaries?

  • WCSS maintains existing critical control points only in each Coop; we no longer attempt to maintain the approx. 1500 other control points that were previously identified.
  • We recommend that companies assess their oil spill risks and identify access sites downstream from high-risk operations.
  • If a company wishes to update a non-critical control point, please contact our Equipment Manager for assistance.

How is standby maintenance and post incident equipment maintenance completed to ensure equipment readiness?

  • The WCSS Equipment Manager is responsible for all of our equipment and relies on each of the 18 Oil Spill Cooperatives for support for maintenance linked to the area’s initial spill response units.
  • WCSS has a maintenance program that includes spring and fall equipment checks and routine maintenance.
  • During a spill the Equipment Manager typically visits the spill site and identifies equipment issues and is involved in corrective action if appropriate; the authority to do this is written in the “Equipment Usage Agreement” which must be signed by the responsible party before it is released from WCSS.
  • Following a spill the Equipment Manager coordinates an assessment of the equipment and replacement of consumables and damaged equipment and the invoicing process to the responsible party.

As a member in good standing; do we pay a rental fee for the use of WCSS equipment?

  • WCSS members in good standing do not pay rental fees for our equipment unless the equipment is required outside of our jurisdictional area (Alberta, NE British Columbia and Area 1 in Saskatchewan); if they do they are charged 1/3 of the rental rate that non-members pay.

How does WCSS provide training for its membership?

  • WCSS coordinates a minimum of 1 exercise per year in each of our 18 Cooperatives; the type of exercise is linked to objectives in our 5 year training plan.
  • If your company would like to have a specific type of training in your Coop area, bring a recommendation forward to the Coop Chairman.
  • WCSS also offers open registration courses and contract training for individual member companies.

How do we know when the exercise will be held in the Cooperative area where we have wells, pipeline and facilities?

  • As of 2013, WCSS no longer attempts to track membership in each area for exercise notification purposes; it is the responsibility of the members to ensure that they have a representative(s) participate.
  • The exercise schedule is posted on the WCSS website www.wcss.ab.ca, is outlined in our newsletters provided with your annual membership invoice, and is available through the Cooperatives.
  • You can also register your contact information on our website and receive newsletters and other information.

If we find an illegal dumping of hydrocarbon waste material on our lease; does WCSS provide funding to clean it up under the WCSS spills of unknown origin program?

  • WCSS only gets involved if the provincial regulator requests that we do so, and we have a cap on the amount of funding for spills of unknown origin.
  • Typically we only get involved if the material dumped cannot be linked to a licensee's lease and/or access road; for the example provided in your question, the regulator would almost certainly hold your company responsible.