Exclusive: Canada regulator probing TransCanada over safety allegations

Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:43pm EDT
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By Mike De Souza

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's energy regulator is investigating up to a dozen new allegations of natural gas pipeline safety-code violations at TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO: Quote), according to documents reviewed by Reuters.

The regulator, the National Energy Board (NEB), and the company confirmed an investigation is under way but offered few details of the allegations.

It marks the second time in recent years the regulator has probed safety practices at Canada's second-largest pipeline company following complaints by a whistleblower.

Documents reviewed by Reuters showed the allegations include faulty or delayed repairs, sloppy welding work and a failure to report key issues to the regulator.

TransCanada declined to provide details about the allegations, but noted someone previously raised them within the company, prompting an internal investigation that is continuing.

Spokesman Davis Sheremata said that TransCanada was working diligently to gather relevant information to share with the regulator, but that it did not see any of the allegations representing either an immediate or long term threat to the public or its assets.

"We make it clear to all of our staff and contractors that we will not tolerate anything that undermines the safety and reliability of our facilities," he said.

The company's safety practices previously came under scrutiny over allegations raised publicly in 2012 by a former employee, Evan Vokes, who worked as an engineer for the company for five years. He left TransCanada in 2012 after he approached the regulator with his complaints.   Continued...

A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp's planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, North Dakota November 14, 2014.  REUTERS/Andrew Cullen