Newalta Toronto Spill Exercise 2009

May 23, 2009

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 this exercise was May 23, 2009, at 1000 hrs. and the location was the Newalta Toronto plant in the Rexdale district of western Toronto.

The scenario: A tanker truck delivering hydrochloric acid develops a leak immediately prior to entering the plant. This causes acid to spill to the storm sewer. Unaware of this, the driver backs the truck into the plant's entrance where, as he exits the vehicle, is overcome by the acid's fumes and collapses. Plant personnel see the driver lying unconscious by his truck and call 911, thereby notifying police, fire and environmental agencies.



The Newalta Toronto plant is located in the Rexdale area of western Toronto.

The briefing with the controllers and other participants early in the morning, before the event.



Controllers, in red vests, watch the truck containing the simulated acid arrive at the beginning of the exercise.


Acid, represented by water and green dye, is discharged from the truck to the storm sewer as part of the exercise.


Dry ice is added for realism, giving the impression that the green liquid is fuming acid.


As the "spilled acid" enters the storm sewer, the truck continues to spill its liquid as it backs into the yard.


Spillage from the truck also flows into the plant's yard.

The driver leaves the cab of the truck, wiping his face as the fumes attack his eyes.


The truck driver begins to collapse as he is overcome by the acid's fumes.


The driver is now completely incapacitated...

.... and for the remainder of the exercise is replaced by the Fire Services' mannequin.


Upon seeing the driver collapse, the company's receiving operator calls 9-1-1.

Toronto Police Services arrive.


The arriving police officer meets the plant manager who tells him the nature of the emergency.

The police officer reports that Toronto Fire Services is required.


Police confer with plant personnel regarding the sequence of events.

Plant and laboratory personnel confirm the chemical characteristics of the tank truck contents.


Toronto Fire Services arrive.

Fire Services meet with plant personnel.


Fire Services confer with the plant manager and decide that the spill area is hazardous.


The Hazmat Captain discusses the situation with his team.

They are given further instructions by their Chief.


With their own breathing apparatus and dressed for the acidic conditions the team approaches the site of the spill.


Two of the firemen use a pole to extract the driver from the truck area.

The third fireman approaches the truck's cab...


... and recovers the driver's log and manifest.

The fire crew have extracted the driver to a safe area.


The acid covered garments are removed and the body is washed down and decontaminated.


Fire Services set up a decon support area...

...while others set up the actual decon wash facility.


While Fire Services completes the final touches to the decon area, Newalta personnel are donning their level A suits.


After returning from the hazardous spill site the Newalta personnel are decontaminated.

Ministry of the Environment (MOE) personnel arrive and confer with the Incident Commander (Fire).


The Incident Commander obtains answers to the MOE's concerns about the spill to the natural environment.

Toronto Water arrives.


Toronto Water confers with the Incident Commander regarding the acid spill.

Toronto Water confering with the Hazmat Captain.


The Hazmat team reports back.

The plant manager questioned by Toronto Water and MOE.


Newalta's Greg Jones in the role of media reporter with the Incident Commander....


... and as a media reporter with the plant manager.

Newalta generously provided a BBQ lunch...


... for all the participants of the spill exercise ...

... which was followed by an outdoor debriefing.


Newalta Toronto's Facility Manager and Director of the Exercise, Timothy Mastin, thanked all the participants for their time and dedication.

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


Timothy Mastin, Newalta Facility Manager

The District Chief


The Incident Commander

Denise Heron, Toronto Police evaluator


The MOE's Wendy Layton and Jake Shaw

Toronto Water evaluator


In 1993, Newalta had six facilities in Western Canada, $8 million in revenue and slightly more than $1 million in cash flow. Today Newalta has more than 80 facilities across Canada, over 1,800 people and revenues in excess of $500 million. Based in Calgary, Alberta, with Western and Eastern divisions, their services span the country coast to coast, delivering "single-source" waste management service solutions. Newalta's future growth includes continued expansion, new services and technologies, and a continued focus on innovation, people, safety and the environment. They can be found at