BASF Canada Spill Exercise 2007

June 2, 2007

The Toronto West CAER Committee has held several exercises to evaluate plant emergency plans and provide Toronto Police, Toronto Fire, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Toronto Water an opportunity to practice their response procedures. Each exercise has been valuable and many lessons have been learned. Most of all, these exercises serve to build bonds with the Emergency Services just as CAER strives to build bonds within the community.

The date of the exercise was June 2, 2007 at 0900 hrs. and the location was the BASF Canada plant in the Rexdale district of western Toronto.

The scenario: At dock #6 within the BASF Canada warehouse, a forklift operator is offloading totes of formic acid. As he enters the trailer on his forklift, he suffers a heart attack. The out of control forklift truck pierces the bottom of a tote of formic acid. The operator stumbles off the forklift and collapses near the forming pool of formic acid. As the product continues to spill, the unconscious forklift driver is exposed to the spill. The acid flows out of the trailer to the containment area. Alarmed by the strong odour of the acid, another operator calls for help.




Staging area for the vehicles of the responders and participants of the spill exercise including Police, Fire and other Municipal services from Toronto Water.

The Salvation Army provided refreshments for the personnel while they waited for their turn to be called.



Toronto Fire Services provided their Hazardous Materials Unit and the mobile Incident Command center.




Toronto Water First Responder vehicle


Last minute discussion as the Director of the exercise, Barry Nicholas, BASF Canada Site Manager conferred with the controllers, evaluators and key personnel.




The exercise began as the fork lift operator attempted to enter a truck at the company's loading dock in order to unload a tote of "formic acid".


The operator experienced a heart attack and fell from the forklift truck, which punctured the tote and released the acid.




Workmen nearby noticed something unusual and came to investigate. As they saw the unconscious operator they detected the strong odour of the acid and notified their supervisor who activated the site's Emergency Response Plan, which included a call to 911 and deployment of the company's hazardous materials team.




BASF Canada's hazardous materials team began suiting up, assisted by other trained personnel. Their job is to attempt to rescue the injured operator and to inspect the extent of the damage to the chemical tote.




Self contained air tanks are strapped on and heavy duty, acid resistant gloves are fitted over the hands.





The gaps between the gloves and the suits are taped closed and the breathing masks are checked for proper fit.




With the proper protection in place the two workmen began the rescue of the downed operator and to inspect the status of the tote.


The human operator was replaced with a mannequin and water (representing the formic acid) poured from the damaged tote over the operator and into the truck.




The rescue team tied a rope to the downed operator and pulled him to safety.


With the operator safely out of the truck, where he could be given first aid, the rescuers inspected the damage to the tote.




The rescue team reported their findings to a supervisor as the Exercise Director observed the interaction between the crews.

        The effect of the exertion inside the hot suits became apparent as the condensation began to limit the visibility through the visor.    



Their job done, the tired rescuers could begin to remove their suits.




The leaking acid, represented here by harmless green dye in water, spilled from the truck and entered the storm sewer system.

Company workmen blocked off the catch basin with mats and proceeded to disperse absorbent material to soak up the acid.


The Toronto Fire Service arrived, under the command of Chief Mattison, District Chief of 41 Station.



The Hazardous Materials Unit.

      Ladder truck from 41 Station .  



Firemen conferred with the BASF Canada workmen on the situation inside the plant and the status of the injured operator.

      All unprotected personnel were escorted from the site as the Fire Services began their task of securing the area.  



The BASF Canada supervisor discussed the situation of the injured operator with the firemen and it was agreed that the operator would be decontaminated before his evacuation to the hospital.

      Toronto Fire began to set up the decontamination area.  



The injured operator was carried to the wash down basin of the decontamination area.

      Both the operator and the firemen handling him were scrubbed down.  



The decontaminated operator sat on a bench as he dried off.

      Toronto Water First Responder and Toronto Water Environmental Protection & Monitoring (TWEP&M) units arrived.  



Ministry of the Environment (MOE) arrived and conferred with Toronto Fire Platoon Chief B. J. Hansen.

      TWEP&M Officer Osman Kulmie and MOE Officer Blair McLaughlin waited to confer with Fire's District Chief.  



Toronto Water First Responder Aldo Lamarra and Officer Kulmie exchanged information on the spill.

      BASF Canada Acting Site Manager Mike Georgescu (in the green shirt) informed Officer Kulmie of the situation regarding the spilled acid.  


Site Manager Georgescu explained what had happened during the accident and what had been done subsequently to mitigate the effects of the acid on the environment.

Officer Kulmie was given full access to all areas of the plant. He was shown where the storm sewer was and the locations of all the access covers to it.


The "Media Reporter" interviewed Site Manager Mike Georgescu on what happened, how it happened and the company's response.



As the exercise ended everybody began to relax.




One of the Exercise designers, Greg Bains (Daimler-Chrysler) with Martine Despatie, Communications Manager, BASF Canada.

Observers from the Toronto West CAER committee in green vests: Glenn Walker (City of Toronto), Carmen Romano (National Silicates) and John Lenchak (Irving Tissue) with Greg Bains.


Exercise Designer, Captain Joe Del Vasto, Toronto Fire, addressed the participants at the debriefing.

BASF Canada's Toronto - Site Manager and Director of the Exercise Barry Nicholas thanked all the participants for their time and dedication.



BASF personnel and the Municipal agencies work together to ensure a safe workplace.




Exercise Designer Dennis Rodrigues, Toronto Water, reported on his observations as an Evaluator. Standing beside him to his right, Rob Taverner, Exercise Designer, Office of Emergency Management, looked on.

      Denise Heron, Toronto Police, reported on her observations.  



BASF Canada generously provided a much appreciated BBQ lunch for all the participants.


BASF Canada during the spill exercise

BASF - The Chemical Company, is the world's leading chemical company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products, agricultural products and fine chemicals to crude oil and natural gas. As a reliable partner to virtually all industries, BASF's high-value products and intelligent system solutions help its customers to be more successful. BASF develops new technologies and uses them to meet the challenges of the future and open up additional market opportunities. It combines economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility, thus contributing to a better future. BASF has over 95,000 employees world wide and posted sales of €52.6 billion (approximately $66.1 billion USD) in 2006. Further information on BASF's global operations is available on the Internet at and in Canada at