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CALGARY Alberta (Reuters) - Canada's energy regulator has ordered Enbridge Inc to halt maintenance work on its Line 3 crude oil pipeline near Cromer, Manitoba, after an inspection in early July revealed a number of environmental and safety concerns.
The National Energy Board said Enbridge had failed to put in place measures to conserve topsoil, control erosion and manage drainage, resulting in damage to wetlands and agricultural lands and posing a safety hazard.
"The resumption of construction activities by Enbridge without a full assessment of damages would cause further detriment to property, safety of the public and the environment," the NEB said in its order.
Enbridge will not be allowed to resume work on the pipeline until the NEB judges the problems have been resolved.
The company has been ordered to create safe access for the landowner across the pipeline right of way, complete an assessment of safety and environmental issues by Aug. 4, and revise its environmental protection plan by the end of August.
Line 3 carries Canadian crude from Edmonton, Alberta, to Superior, Wisconsin, and currently runs at 390,000 barrels per day. Enbridge plans to replace the entire line by 2017 at a cost of C$7.5 billion ($6.9 billion), which will allow it to run at full capacity of 760,000 bpd.
Enbridge spokesman Graham White said the NEB order relates to regular maintenance on the pipeline and does not refer to the Line 3 replacement project.
"Flood conditions in the spring and the heavy rainfall in late June prevented us from accessing the area with the equipment necessary to remedy the issues raised by the landowner and known to us as well," he said. "Any issues that the NEB has identified as safety concerns will be addressed immediately."
White said the maintenance work is still expected to be completed on schedule by the end of 2014, and the NEB order has had no impact on the flow of crude through Line 3.
"This is not related to work on the actual pipe, but is on landowner property and regarding topsoil, drainage and fencing near Cromer, so has no impact on capacity, flow or the larger scope replacement project," he added.
Editing by Peter Galloway