ECRC Services

Our Services

ECRC was established to provide oil spill response services to companies operating in canadian navigable waters in ECRC’s GAR south of the 60th parallel, including: the Great Lakes, the Athabasca River, Lake Athabasca, Lake Winnipeg, Hudson’s Bay, James Bay and Ungava Bay. Included in ECRC’s assets are the resources purchased from the former oil spill co-operatives PIMEC (Ontario), COPIM (Quebec) ESRI (Newfoundland) and PIER (Nova Scotia). All together, ECRC maintains an inventory in excess of $40 million in equipment in seven Primary Areas of Response (PARs): Sarnia (at Corunna), Montreal (at Verchères), Quebec City, Sept-Iles, Halifax (at Dartmouth) and St. John’s (covering the PARs of Holyrood and Come-By-Chance). Thirty-nine full-time ECRC employees provide the management services required to maintain a state of readiness.

ECRC also provides mutual aid support to Atlantic Emergency Response Team (ALERT) in Saint John NB and to Point Tupper Marine Services (PTMS) in Point Tupper NS and to the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) in Vancouver BC.

  • Great Lakes Region – Corunna
  • Atlantic Region – Dartmouth, St-John’s
  • Quebec Region – Québec, Sept-Îles, Verchères
  • Headquarter Office – Ottawa


ECRC has a simple and rapid activation procedure that is used by a client-member who has a spill and wishes to use our services in response to the problem. Using the 24-hour telephone number that is provided to the member, the client-member will get an immediate answer from a trained operator who monitors a dedicated telephone line. (The reliability of the system was put to the test on a number of occasions including during the winter of 1998 and 2000 when ice storms hit Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, plunging many communities into darkness. Our answering service is located in one of those communities, but their back-up power supplies meant uninterrupted service to ECRC and our clients.)

When the bilingual operators answers the initial call, they will ask a few key questions that ensure that ECRC can get back in touch with the client should their call be cut off. It includes questions about the client-member’s name, company name, telephone number and general location of the problem. This process typically takes less than 3 minutes to complete. The operator simultaneously pages two of ECRC’s response managers and – if the client-member wishes – they may stay on the phone line to be connected directly to the first ECRC manager who responds. If the client-member cannot hold, then the ECRC manager will call them back immediately after getting the details from the operator.

Once the ECRC response manager has confirmed the information about the spill and gets a bit more information from the client, the ECRC response manager will activate a network of activation calls that escalate to a level required by the size and circumstances of the spill. This includes alerting ECRC managers in Ottawa, Corunna, Quebec and Dartmouth as well as local response contractors who are engaged to respond within minutes of a call. The ECRC manager also makes an initial evaluation of the spill information and uses a code to alert other ECRC personnel of the expected level of response required. In that way, although every ECRC employee is now on stand-by to respond to the spill, the client is only charged for people actually required in the response.


“ECRC has in place a comprehensive response contractor training program. The program is focused to ensure that responders understand what is expected of them and that they are capable of performing the role that they would normally be assigned. They are key players in our overall response strategy. ECRC has developed comprehensive training courses/modules that include topics such as, spill response safety, skimmer use, booming techniques, shoreline treatment and communications.

ECRC maintains a pool of trained responders to permit a 24-hour operation over an extended period. To accomplish this, ECRC has a built in redundancy factor and trains enough responders so that its response will not be hampered by the lack of trained responders. Personnel from neighbouring Response Centres can also be cascaded should the spill be large enough to require such help. ECRC maintains a pool of approximately 500 trained responders.

In those locations where there are no established oil spill contractor companies, ECRC has elected to train local fishermen and other boat owners who are knowledgeable about the local waters and have vessels that are capable of handling the expected sea conditions. These vessels are modified for mounting the specialized spill response equipment.

ECRC also maintains an active list of approximately 130 trained advisors to assist ECRC’s spill management team in the development of its plans of actions.

As an extension of our training capabilities, ECRC can also provide consulting services in oil spill contingency planning, team training, equipment deployment training and equipment selection. See our Personnel Rates for cost structures.”


The Response Centres hold regular training sessions and hands-on exercises throughout the year. Our hope is it is only at these times that our equipment has to hit the water. ECRC staff plan and executes a number of exercises each year that are intended to keep ECRC at the top of its response form. These exercises demonstrate functions of a spill response that range from initial response (the “emergency phase”) to long term planning (the “project management phase”). ECRC provides its clients with a full range of spill response services, from equipment deployment and operational control, to logistics of team support and short, medium and long term response planning. ECRC manages its spill response through to its final stage and a financial group ensures the client is kept informed of the costs.

Exercise program

The frequency of exercises is given for the certification period. Normally the exercises of a given type will be spread as evenly as possible over the 3-year certification period. There are five distinct types of exercises:

Notification Exercise

  • Exercises held quarterly for each PAR in each ECRC Region. A Notification Exercise may be included as a part of a Tier II, III or IV Exercise.

Tier I Exercise – 1 tonne to 150 tonne (Equipment Deployment)

  • Exercises will be held annually for each PAR

Tier II Exercise – 151 tonne to 1000 tonne Table Top Simulation

  • Exercises will be held once per year in the PAR during the 3 year certification period.

Tier III Exercise – 1001 tonne to 2500 tonne Exercise

  • Exercise will be held once per PAR per 2 year period, alternating between in the PAR and outside the PAR.

Tier IV Exercise – 2501 tonne to 10,000 tonne Table Top Simulation

  • Exercise will be held once in the GAR during the 3 year certification period.

In every case, the purpose of an exercise is to demonstrate ECRC’s abilities and to discover ways to improve the response capability of its equipment, personnel and contractors. Should the call ever come, ECRC is prepared to respond without delay to spills that might occur within our geographic area of response.

Clients wishing to be included as a participant or observer in ECRC exercises should contact the appropriate ECRC regional office. Since exercise scheduling and design is done in advance, requests to be included in exercise plans should be made as early as possible.