Wild Weather Brings Unique Challenges
Keeping the supply chain running for Western Canadian commodities and keeping our people safe are always our priorities. That was tested recently by unprecedented weather events. While this past summer’s heat dome was challenging, the more recent flooding and freezing temperatures tested our terminal in ways we’d never seen. In mid-November, following the floods in the Fraser Valley, we went three weeks without a train on site. “This was a rare occurrence—and we made the best of the situation, with the terminal team performing significant equipment maintenance during this down time” says William Robinson, Maintenance Manager.
Railcars began to arrive again in early December and had ramped up fully by Christmas. Cue the frigid temperatures and heavy snow… “This is not weather that we see often in North Vancouver,” says Craig Olley, Vice President, Operations. “We were challenged by both frozen materials and equipment.” Coal turned to frozen like boulders, while water supply lines and washing equipment were frozen in place and inoperable. Ingenuity propelled the team into action with steam and hot water trucks brought onto site.
These challenges left the team thinking: What can we learn from this and how do we apply that in the future? A revised winterization plan is underway, as are contingency plans for both extreme heat and cold. There is also a huge safety component to keeping teams safe. “We have a lot of knowledge and depth on our team, and that’s helped us plan and incorporate best practices,” says Craig. “People are our most valuable resource.”